RR132 - Shift work and breast cancer: a critical review
of the epidemiological evidence
Reviews critically the epidemiological literature that has
addressed the possible relation between shift work and risk of
breast cancer. Four published studies were identified that have
directly investigated this relation, two cohort studies and two
case-control studies. Each has different methodological strengths,
and each has found some significant associations, sometimes with
dose or duration response effects, albeit with varying size of risk
and to different aspects of shift work. A potential mechanism for a
relation between shift work and breast cancer risk would be via an
effect of altered light exposure at night on levels of melatonin or
other hormones that might affect cancer risk; this mechanism has
not been established, however. Overall, the evidence for an
association of breast cancer risk with shift work is appreciable
but not definitive, and it remains unclear whether any association
is causal or a consequence of confounding.
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