Objective: Night-shift work is associated with ischaemic cardiovascular disorders. It is not currently known whether it may be causally linked to metabolic syndrome (MS), a risk condition for ischaemic cardiovascular disorders. The syndrome presents with visceral obesity associated with mild alterations in glucidic and lipidic homeostasis, and in blood pressure. The aim of this study was to assess whether a causal relationship exists between night-shift work and the development of MS.
Methods: Male and female nurses performing night shifts, free from any component of MS at baseline, were evaluated annually for the development of the disorder during a 4-year follow-up. Male and female nurses performing daytime work only, visited during the same time period, represented the control group.
Results: The cumulative incidence of MS was 9.0% (36/402) among night-shift workers, and 1.8% (6/336) among daytime workers (relative risk (RR) 5.0, 95% CI − 2.1 to 14.6). The annual rate of incidence of MS was 2.9% in night-shift workers and 0.5% in daytime workers. Kaplan–Meier survival curves of the two groups were significantly different (log-rank test; p<0.001). Multiple Cox regression analysis (forward selection method based on likelihood ratio) showed that among selected variables (age, gender, smoking, alcohol intake, familiar history, physical activity, and work schedule) the only predictors of occurrence of MS were sedentariness (hazard ratio (HR) 2.92; 95% CI 1.64 to 5.18; p = 0.017), and night-shift work (HR 5.10; 95% CI 2.15 to 12.11; p<0.001).
Conclusions: The risk of developing MS is strongly associated with night-shift work in nurses. Medical counselling should be promptly instituted in night-shift workers with the syndrome, and in case of persistence or progression, a change in work schedule should be considered.
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Funding The study was in part supported by a grant of Tor Vergata University (fondi Ateneo 60% 2006).
Competing interests None.
Ethics approval Written consent from individuals had been granted, in accordance with the procedures approved by the ethical committee of our institution.
Patient consent Obtained.
Provenance and Peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.