Funded by Medifast, Inc.
Working outside the regular hours of 7am to 6pm, or shift work, has become a critical component of our 24-hour society. With approximately 18% of workers in the US engaged in shift work, the possibility that working at night causes cancer is an important public health issue. While increased cancer risks have been observed among shift workers, the specific factors responsible for the increased risks remain unknown. Identifying these factors is crucial to the development of strategies to prevent cancer among shift workers. Sleep disruption is thought to be a likely causal factor, but little research has been done, and studies thus far have relied on crude measures of sleep disruption. By looking at DNA damage among shift workers and using detailed measures of sleep quality, our study will, for the first time, closely examine the cancer causing role of sleep disruption among shift workers. Though sleep disruption occurs commonly among shift workers, it is not unique to them, so findings from this study will be broadly useful to the protection of health and well-being across the general population.