Does Working at Night Damage Your DNA?
Several studies have linked shift work—work outside of the traditional 9 to 5 work day—to adverse health effects. Now, research published in Occupational & Environmental Medicine provides more details about how shift work can impact health. According to researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, working at night may interfere with the body’s ability to repair damaged DNA.
Earlier studies have shown that people who sleep during the day after working at night have lower levels of a chemical byproduct of DNA repair, possibly due to decreased melatonin production. In the new study, which involved 50 shift workers, researchers did discover significantly lower melatonin levels in people who worked night shifts and slept during the day.
This was an observational study and did not prove cause and effect, but if the results are confirmed, melatonin supplementation could possibly help reduce DNA damage in shift workers.