The Association Between Shift Work and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes




Lin, Jamie

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Shift work is becoming increasingly prevalent throughout the world and is gradually affecting more employees due to changing economic pressures. Shift work often leads to poorer sleep, disruptions to the circadian rhythm, and lower-quality diet which all contribute to unfavourable metabolic processes that facilitates the development and progression of type 2 diabetes. This literature review summarizes studies that analyze the effects of shift work on type 2 diabetes diagnosis and the diabetes risk factors: Body Mass Index (BMI), sleep quality/duration, and diabetes-related biomarkers, and addressing areas of improvement for shift workers’ working conditions and diabetesprevention education. There is strong evidence suggesting an adverse relationship between shift work and risk of type 2 diabetes over 20 years of research. Higher prevalence of type 2 diabetes, increased BMI, and poorer sleep quality was demonstrated among shift workers in most studies, particularly more so in rotating shift workers. Half of the studies reported a positive association between shift work and diabetes-related biomarkers such as blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglycerides levels. This review revisits the effects of shift work on type 2 diabetes risk to provide a better understanding of the health consequences of disrupted circadian rhythms. Epidemiological evidence showing adverse effects of shift work on health helps emphasize the importance of policy creation, practice recommendations, and proper health education needed to protect more shift workers from type 2 diabetes risk.


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