Working the night shift could limit your body’s ability to repair damaged DNA

Science Translation

Shift work, or work that occurs outside the normal 9-5 hours, has been associated with chronic disease and illness including an increased risk of certain cancers, heart disease, obesity, and depression. These negative effects are likely due to a loss of a normal sleep schedule which disrupts the body’s production of melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland (specialized gland in your brain) that helps to regulate your sleep cycles. Melatonin also has an important role as an antioxidant and as a protector of DNA in your cells. Previous studies have linked shift work with elevated levels of oxidative stress which is known to damage DNA and potentially lead to an increase risk for chronic disease. To understand if shift work and sleep disruptions are associated with a loss in the melatonin anti-oxidant mechanism, a team of researchers from Seattle recruited night shift workers and monitored the…

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