Night work can lead to dangerous health consequences for men

Night work can lead to dangerous health consequences for men, say scientists from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Their study, published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, found that men may be more vulnerable to jet lag that occurs during night work.

Using data from more than 90,000 shift workers in the UK, scientists found that men who worked nights were 10% more likely to have metabolic syndrome, a set of risk factors for heart disease and diabetes. This syndrome includes high blood pressure, high cholesterol and blood sugar levels, and excess visceral fat deposited around internal organs.

Shift workers were also at greater risk of metabolic syndrome than women who worked only standard hours. However, the changes in them were less detrimental than in men. Laboratory experiments pointed to a role for estrogen: female mice that had been spayed and therefore did not produce estrogen were less protected from the effects of disturbed day and night cycles than female mice with normal estrogen production.

A study of data on shift workers also found that men who worked nights had more sleep problems and higher levels of stress. This can lead to worse mental health and a higher risk of depression.

While night work may be unavoidable for some occupations, scientists recommend taking steps to minimize the risks. For example, they suggest reducing the number of night work hours or switching to a more regular work schedule.

In addition, scientists also recommend monitoring your health and paying attention to nutrition and physical activity levels. This can help reduce the risk of developing metabolic syndrome and other night work-related illnesses.

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