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Total and Cause-Specific Mortality of U.S. Nurses Working Rotating Night Shifts

Published:January 06, 2015DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.amepre.2014.10.018

      Background

      Rotating night shift work imposes circadian strain and is linked to the risk of several chronic diseases.

      Purpose

      To examine associations between rotating night shift work and all-cause; cardiovascular disease (CVD); and cancer mortality in a prospective cohort study of 74,862 registered U.S. nurses from the Nurses’ Health Study.

      Methods

      Lifetime rotating night shift work (defined as ≥3 nights/month) information was collected in 1988. During 22 years (1988–2010) of follow-up, 14,181 deaths were documented, including 3,062 CVD and 5,413 cancer deaths. Cox proportional hazards models estimated multivariable-adjusted hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% CIs.

      Results

      All-cause and CVD mortality were significantly increased among women with ≥5 years of rotating night shift work, compared to women who never worked night shifts. Specifically, for women with 6–14 and ≥15 years of rotating night shift work, the HRs were 1.11 (95% CI=1.06, 1.17) and 1.11 (95% CI=1.05, 1.18) for all-cause mortality and 1.19 (95% CI=1.07, 1.33) and 1.23 (95% CI=1.09, 1.38) for CVD mortality. There was no significant association between rotating night shift work and all-cancer mortality (HR≥15years=1.08, 95% CI=0.98, 1.19) or mortality of any individual cancer, with the exception of lung cancer (HR≥15years=1.25, 95% CI=1.04, 1.51).

      Conclusions

      Women working rotating night shifts for ≥5 years have a modest increase in all-cause and CVD mortality; those working ≥15 years of rotating night shift work have a modest increase in lung cancer mortality. These results add to prior evidence of a potentially detrimental effect of rotating night shift work on health and longevity.
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