Night shifts and unhealthy lifestyle factors increase women’s diabetes risk

Researchers funded by NHLBI established that rotating night shift work combined with an unhealthy lifestyle significantly increase the risk of type 2 diabetes in women. The findings, published in the BMJ, are based on data from more than 143,000 U.S. female nurses.

Separately, unhealthy lifestyle factors – smoking, inactivity, overweight or obesity, and poor diet – and shift work have been linked to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. But researchers believe this is the first study to assess their combined effect; and the results stress the importance of a healthy lifestyle especially for shift workers. 

While rotating night shift work and unhealthy lifestyle were associated with a higher risk of type 2 diabetes among female nurses; the study found that the combination of the two contributed to the risk much more than each individual factor. 

“These findings suggest that most cases of type 2 diabetes could be prevented by adhering to a healthy lifestyle, and the benefits could be greater in rotating night shift workers,” concluded the authors.