Female nurses who work frequent night shifts may be at greater risk for certain cancers, according to a new study published a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.

Chinese researchers compared data from 61 studies, from more than 114,000 cancer cases and more than 3.9 million participants from North America, Europe, Asia and Australia. They found that long-term night work in women increased their risk of cancer by 19%.

The results were particularly pronounced among nurses. Nurses who worked frequent night shifts had a 58% higher risk of breast cancer, 35% higher risk for gastrointestinal cancer and 28% higher risk for lung cancer. When the researchers compared these results by region, they found that the risk of breast cancer only increased among North American and European women.

This confirms previous research that found nurses who often work night shifts face a higher risk for heart disease, workplace injuries and lung cancer. A study published in 2015 found that frequent night shifts increased nurses’ risk for all causes of death by 11%.

What is the cause of this? Are these nurses more sleep deprived? Have poorer diets? Get less exercise? And do we not, as a profession, have the responsibility to draw attention to and find solutions to this life-threatening problem?

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