Giving Compass' Take:

• Diane Mapes explains that research suggests that the damage of night shift work includes increased cancer risk. 

• How can funders help to clarify the health consequences of lifestyle factors like working the night shift? Can night shift work be made healthier? 

• Learn how to make an impact on cancer research

In 2014, Krupienski left nursing — and her onerous night shift — for a less stressful job at a high school. Her sleep returned to normal and her health improved dramatically. Then in November 2016, she learned she had breast cancer, a diagnosis that left her with a nagging suspicion.

“I always wonder if some sort of cell confusion occurs with night shift, reduced immunity and lack of sleep which could've had some sort of influence on me getting cancer,” said Krupienski, now 42.

I think my body was so worn out from so many years of lackluster sleep. Perhaps it triggered something that triggered the cancer.”

Nancy Krupienski worked nights for years as a licensed practical nurse before taking a job in education. Diagnosed with breast cancer in 2016, she wonders if lack of sleep might have driven the diagnosis.

Most of us know that getting enough sleep is crucial for our health. Sleeping seven to nine hours a night keeps the body in good working order. Sleep too little or too sporadically for too long and you could fall prey to anything from diabetes to depression to cardiovascular disease.

But it’s not just about how much you sleep. It’s also important when you sleep.

A 2001 study by Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center epidemiologist Dr. Scott Davis found nurses like Krupienski, who regularly worked a graveyard shift, were more than 1.5 times more likely to get breast cancer. And other studies have backed up the night shift–cancer connection, leading the International Agency for Research on Cancer in 2007 to classify shift work that disrupts circadian rhythm as “probably carcinogenic to humans.”

Read the full article about the night shift-cancer connection by Diane Mapes at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.