Night Duty Work link with Breast Cancer?

Hi just wondered if anyone can share any info on the link between breast cancer and night work.

I have read alot in the papers and internet ( not always useful i know!!) I returned to work NHS nurse rotational shifts in oct 2008 i did part time for a bit then full time but then went back to 30 hrs did not do nights but i am now expected to start doing nights. I am working full time which is quite tiring and i am concerned that by working nights may not be good , and may increase my risk of bc returning.

Any advice or similar situations

Sarah66 x

I’d read about this ages ago and I can’t remember where it was from. I’m a nurse too, but work 2 nights a week and at the moment have pushed it to the back of my mind as I like my nights and hate the thought of doing days.

I too read this article a while ago and cannot remember for the life of me where i saw it. 2009 from Jan- Sept i did nights to allow for my son to do nursery. I do wonder if this exacerbated my situation.


I worked 24 years on nights in a nursing home while bringing up my kids, mostly full time. After being diagnosed with breast cancer last year I dropped down to 20 hours a week, still on nights when returning to work.
Not too sure about the link between working nights and breast cancer though, as I know lots of women that worked nights and seem ok at the moment.
Also I have some relatives that had breast cancer so mine could be in the genes.

I’ve read that decreased levels of melatonin are associated with bc.

Melatonin is naturally produced after about 3 hours of sleep, shift/night work sleep patterens intefere with the production of it.

It can be supplemented with pills, but not allowed to be sold in the uk.

hi, i too have concerns about this, a survey was done in scandinavia and it was shown night workers had more incidence of breast cancer and some are even suing the government. over here there is a survey being done but the results will not be made known until 2011. i too have worked nights for 30 years in emergency services. i have managed to reduce to doing 3 days and 1 night per week but would love not to do nights anymore, i get so tired but have been told they have made all what they think is a " resonable adjustment " so get on with it or leave. Louise it does say it takes many years of night work to “possibly” cause problems so doubt if it contributed to you.

Annie x

WOW I was amazed to read this link as I had never heard of any link between BC and nights. I have worked shift patterns all my life! Where can I read alittle more about this link???

Hi I worked full time night shift for 26 years (i also am a nurse) was interested to read this article and im going to keep an eye out for our governments reply in 2011… A colleague of mine worked nights for over twenty years and she also has breast cancer, another one has bowel cancer… so might be something in it…

Anne x

HI ALL iam also a nurse and have worked nights for over twenty years although i do only two nights a week so hopefully boost my melatonin levels on my days off although i was also stronly Er+ve ( scored 8) so this is probably more to do with my b/c i also think stress also has a lot to do with it and shifts ,staffing levels and demands of nursing certainly is stressfull 3 collegues of mine have also had B/C and one bowel and ovarian so it certainly makes you think .

IM a midwife and have worked my share of night since i started training in 2002. There are a lot of staff members with breast cancer at work altho it could just be we are all women so nothing to contrast with!!

makes you wonder.

Hi Sarah, I’m a nurse too and have done more than my fair share of nights over the years.
After dx of BC, I just couldnt face the prospect of another night duty again, so I went to Occ Health and they where really supportive. I didnt mention any research to them, but just told them how I felt and that I really couldnt cope with the stess of night duty. They wrote to my manager recommending I didnt do nights for at least 6 months, and after that, if they wanted to put me on nights I had to have an OH assessment first, havent done a night duty for 2 years now.
Also, you have the Disability Discrimination Act on your side, and your manager has to make reasonable adjustment to accomodate your needs.
I also dropped my hours to 2 days a week as I just couldnt be doing with the daily stress and politics of nursing.

Hi Ladies,
What an interesting post. I also did nights in the police force but thast was over 20 years before my dx. The girl I worked with on my section and also shared accommodation for a short while has had breast cancer too!!
Had never heard of this possible connection before.
Love to you all,
Jane xx

Hi All,
I am a nurse too and did permanent nights for 3 months - not sure if this was enough as a contributing factor, but interestingly I do suffer a bit with insomnia - have done all my life. I basically have days and weeks of not sleeping - I believe from what I have read that we make melatonin between 10pm and 2am. Well I must of made very little all my life…mmmm makes you think.
Lynn x

Hi all thanks for your replys. I have spoken to my manager who suggests i stop doing any more nights. I am going through occ health just to make it official. So hopefully i will feel better without the stress of working night.

Best wishes
Sarah 66 x