A study published in the journal Diabetes Care shows that the people who work rotating or irregular shifts or rotating shifts with mostly night shifts were more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes by 44 percent.
This type of diabetes is a chronic condition that affects how the body processes glucose or blood sugar and is also a precursor to cardiovascular diseases. The study found that in comparison to day workers, all workers, except for those who work in night shifts permanently were under the risk of suffering from Type 2 diabetes.
The team analysed the data from more than 270,000 people, including 70,000 of those who gave in-depth lifetime employment information and a sub-category of more than 44,000 for whom genetic data was available. Among the sample population, more than 6,000 people had Type 2 diabetes.
The research team developed a genetic risk score based on the information available on more than hundred genetic variants associated with type 2 diabetes. It was then used to assign a value to each participant.
The results revealed that those with the highest risk scores were nearly four times as likely to develop Type 2 diabetes in comparison to those who had lower genetic risk scores.
“We see a dose-response relationship between the frequency of night shift work and Type 2 diabetes, where the more often people do shift work, the greater their likelihood of having the disease, regardless of genetic predisposition,” said Ceiine Vetter, Professor at the University of Colorado-Boulder.
“This helps us understand one piece of the puzzle: frequency of night shift work seems to be an important factor,” Vetter added.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the global prevalence of diabetes has almost doubled since 1980, increasing from 4.7 per cent to 8.5 per cent in the adult population. The majority of people with diabetes suffer from Type 2 diabetes.