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Women who have worked night shifts for significant portions of their careers may benefit from seeking blood testing to determine if their glucose levels are within normal ranges. A new study indicates that professionals who work this type of schedule are much more likely to develop diabetes.
The Harvard School of Public Health researchers said their findings only underscore the need for shift workers to take extra care of their health by eating right and getting plenty of exercise. The work schedule has already been linked in previous studies to an increased risk of heart disease. The new findings indicate the health hazards could be even greater than previously thought.
For the study, the researchers examined the medical records of nearly 70,000 women. Results showed that participants' diabetes risk increased in proportion to the number of years they had done shift work. Those working three to nine years were at a 20 percent greater risk, while those working over 20 years were 58 percent more likely to develop diabetes.
The team said previous studies have shown that any disruption to normal sleep patterns can throw off a person's metabolic rhythms. This may explain why shift workers were found to be at an increased risk of developing diabetes. Blood testing may help women determine their own risk.
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