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Night shift work at specific age ranges and chronic disease risk factors
  1. Cody Ramin1,
  2. Elizabeth E Devore1,
  3. Weike Wang2,
  4. Jeffrey Pierre-Paul3,
  5. Lani R Wegrzyn2,
  6. Eva S Schernhammer1,2,4,5
  1. 1Channing Division of Network Medicine, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  2. 2Department of Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  3. 3Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  4. 4Division of Sleep Medicine, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  5. 5LBI-ACR & ACR-ITR VIEnna/CEADDP, Vienna, Austria
  1. Correspondence to Eva S Schernhammer, Channing Laboratory, 181 Longwood Avenue, Boston, MA 02115, USA; eva.schernhammer{at}


Objectives We examined the association of night shift work history and age when night shift work was performed with cancer and cardiovascular disease risk factors among 54 724 women in the Nurses’ Health Study (NHS) II.

Methods We calculated age-adjusted and socioeconomic status-adjusted means and percentages for cancer and cardiovascular risk factors in 2009 across categories of night shift work history. We used multivariable-adjusted logistic regression to estimate odds ratios (ORs) and 95% CIs for key risk factors among 54 724 participants (72% ever shift workers). We further examined these associations by age (20–25, 26–35, 36–45 and 46+ years) at which shift work was performed.

Results Ever night shift workers had increased odds of obesity (body mass index ≥30 kg/m2; OR=1.37, 95% CI 1.31 to 1.43); higher caffeine intake (≥131 mg/day; OR=1.16, 95% CI 1.12 to 1.22) and total calorie intake (≥1715 kcal/day; OR=1.09, 95% CI 1.04 to 1.13); current smoking (OR=1.30, 95% CI 1.19 to 1.42); and shorter sleep durations (≤7 h of sleep/day; OR=1.19, 95% CI 1.15 to 1.24) compared to never night shift workers. These estimates varied depending on age at which night work was performed, with a suggestion that night shift work before age 25 was associated with fewer risk factors compared to night shift work at older ages.

Conclusions Our results indicate that night shift work may contribute to an adverse chronic disease risk profile, and that risk factors may vary depending on the age at which night shift work was performed.

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