Japanese researchers found that workers on rotating shifts were four times more likely to develop prostate cancer than those working regular hours, whether on day or night shifts.
Shift work has also been linked to an increased risk of breast and bowel cancers.
The study, which examined more than 14,000 workers over eight years, also found that night shift workers were at a slightly increased risk of prostate cancer. Eighty percent of the workers studied worked daytime hours, 7 percent worked nights, and about 13 percent rotated their work schedules from night to day.
The reason for the effects may be reduced secretion of the hormone melatonin in those who work irregular hours and, to a lesser extent, nights. Reduced secretion of melatonin has been linked to increased production of sex hormones, which help to regulate prostate tissues.
Our modern culture requires that many of us work completely unnatural hours. We need police and fire protection and health care workers to be available in emergency rooms.
Unfortunately, what many people who work these shifts don't realize is the incredibly increased risk they put themselves at for early death. You simply can't violate foundational biological rhythms and not pay a price.
Just because some genius developed the ability to create inexpensive artificial light a century ago does not give us permission to ignore centuries of biology, which dictate foundational biological processes.
Getting the right amount of sleep every day, and getting it at the right time, can make such a profound difference in your health. If you happen to be one of the unfortunate people who are involved in shift work I would encourage you to place a high goal to change that as soon as possible.
Personally, there are very few things that affect me as much as not getting a good night's sleep. I don't need much, but -- if I can get a good solid six to six and a half hours -- I have no problems going to sleep around 10 p.m. and bouncing out of bed at 4 a.m. to 4:30 a.m., ready and raring to tackle the day and achieve my goals.
It is also important to sleep in complete darkness. Many do not appreciate that the tiniest bit of light can disrupt your body's natural circadian rhythms, in addition to the production of melatonin by your pineal gland, which is why it's so important for you to sleep in complete darkness.
This is one of the primary reasons for this study's observed increase in cancer. Melatonin is a very powerful cancer controller and when you decrease your production of it your risk of cancer climbs.
Also be sure to get a healthy amount of sun, another important way to slash your risk of prostate cancer. Not only will it increase your vitamin D levels, but bright sun exposure during the day will help your body make more melatonin at night if you are sleeping in a dark room.
So, let's get your sleeping right and get to bed when you were designed to. If you are having trouble with sleeping I urge you to review my 29 secrets for getting a good night's sleep safely, effectively and without a drug, including: