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Hansen, J., & Lassen, C. F. (2012). Nested case-control study of night shift work and breast cancer risk among women in the Danish military. Occup Environ Med, 69(8), 551–556.
Abstract: OBJECTIVES: Growing but limited evidence suggests that night shift work is associated with breast cancer. The authors conducted a nationwide case-control study nested within a cohort of 18,551 female military employees born in 1929-1968 to investigate the risk for breast cancer after night shift work and to explore the role of leisure time sun exposure and diurnal preference. METHODS: The authors documented 218 cases of breast cancer (1990-2003) and selected 899 age-matched controls from the cohort by incidence density sampling. Information on shift work, sun exposure habits, diurnal preference and other potential confounders was obtained from a structured questionnaire. ORs were estimated by multivariate conditional logistic regression. RESULTS: Overall, the authors observed an adjusted OR of 1.4 (95% CI 0.9 to 2.1) among women with ever compared with never night shifts. The RR for breast cancer tended to increase with increasing number of years of night shift work (p=0.03) and with cumulative number of shifts (p=0.02),with a neutral risk for fewer than three night shifts per week. The OR for the group with the highest tertile of cumulative exposure was 2.3 (95% CI 1.2 to 4.6). The most pronounced effect of night shift work on breast cancer risk was observed in women with morning chronotype preference and intense night shifts (OR=3.9, 95% CI 1.6 to 9.5). Night shift workers tended to sunbathe more frequently than day workers. CONCLUSIONS: The results indicate that frequent night shift work increases the risk for breast cancer and suggest a higher risk with longer duration of intense night shifts. Women with morning preference who worked on night shifts tended to have a higher risk than those with evening preference.