Is working at night really bad for your health?
Is working at night really bad for your health?

Scientists have figured out how night shift work and DNA damage are related.

Is working at night really bad for your health?
Is working at night really bad for your health?

Working at night has long been associated with an increased risk of obesity, diabetes and cancer. The head of a recent study, Parveen Bhatti, believes the new findings explain this. According to his data, P. Bhatti, D. K. Mirick, T. W. Randolph, et al. Oxidative DNA damage during night shift work / Occupational and Environmental Medicine, in the body of those who work on the night shift, the ability to repair DNA damage is reduced. This is evident from the content of the chemical 8-oxo-dG. It is excreted in the urine when the body repairs damaged DNA.

“We think the reduced excretion of 8-oxo-dG reflects a deterioration in the ability to repair DNA,” Bhatti said. "Over time, this DNA damage increases the risk of cancer and other diseases."

This process can be caused by a lack of melatonin. This hormone helps regulate the body's internal clock. Our brain produces melatonin in response to darkness. Those who work at night tend to have lower melatonin levels.

But not everything is clear. "The results are interesting," said Kathryn Reid, professor of neuroscience at Northwestern University in Chicago. “But they don’t prove the link between shift work and direct DNA damage. And it is not yet clear how this relates to melatonin. There is no evidence of a causal relationship."

Bhatti and colleagues examined the performance of 50 participants who work at night. They noticed that during night shifts, the participants had decreased urinary 8-oxo-dG levels. On the nights when they slept, the level of this substance was higher. The researchers also found that decreased levels of melatonin correlated with a decrease in 8-oxo-dG.

Bhatti himself believes that it is in melatonin. But there is not enough data yet. It is necessary to investigate how the intake of melatonin will affect the biomarker 8-oxo-dG.

While the results are inconclusive, you should not take melatonin supplements in the hopes of preventing DNA damage. Be careful with additives. It is not known how much of the hormone they contain. Plus, melatonin can make you sleepy. And this will only interfere with working at night.

While Bhatti advises those who work at night, especially carefully monitor their health. Eat a balanced diet, quit smoking, and exercise regularly.

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