(HealthDay News) — Working rotating night shifts (at least 3 nights spent working each month, in addition to days and evenings worked in the month) may pose a threat to an individual’s health, a new study suggests. The findings were published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Researchers led by Eva Schernhammer, MD, DrPH, of Harvard Medical School in Boston, tracked 22 years of data from about 75,000 nurses across the United States. They found that people who worked rotating night shifts for more than 5 years had an 11% increased risk for death from all causes.

The risk for death from heart disease was 19% higher among those who worked such shifts for 6 to 14 years, and 23% higher for those who worked such shifts for 15 or more years, Schernhammer’s group found. Nurses who worked rotating night shifts for 15 or more years also had a 25% higher risk of death from lung cancer.

“These results add to prior evidence of a potentially detrimental relation of rotating night shift work and health and longevity,” Schernhammer said in a journal news release. 

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Further research is needed to learn how individual traits might interact with rotating night shift work to harm health, she added.


  1. Gu F et al. Am J Prev Med. 2015;doi:10.1016/j.amepre.2014.10.018.