Hypotheses for mechanisms linking shiftwork and cancer

Lin Fritschi, Deborah Glass, Jane Heyworth, K Aronson, Jennifer Girschik, T Boyle, A Grundy, T Erren

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146 Citations (Scopus)


Shift work has been associated with various adverse health outcomes. In particular, there has been a recent flourish in investigating potential cancer risk associated with working night shifts and other shift schedules. Epidemiologic studies have revealed generally weak associations due to several methodological challenges such as lack of standard classifications of shift or night work. The field also has been hindered by a lack of clarity about the possible mechanisms by which shiftwork could have an effect on cancer risk. One possible mechanism is reduced production of melatonin caused by exposure to light at night. Although there is a growing body of evidence that provides some support for this mechanism, several other mechanisms also make sense from a biological point of view.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)430 - 436
Number of pages7
JournalMedical Hypotheses
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2011

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