The proportion of the working population engaged in shift work
in the EU is around 15 per cent, but this varies between countries (ranging from
6 to 30 per cent) and within different industrial sectors, with the occurrence being
higher in the healthcare, industrial manufacturing, mining, transport, communications,
leisure and hospitality sectors.
In 2007, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified
shift work that causes disruption to the body's natural circadian rhythm as
probably carcinogenic to humans (Group 2A)1, with the main risk being an
increase in the incidence of breast cancer in women working night shifts.
A new research report about the impact of shift work on occupational cancer,
published by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), presents
the following conclusions:
While there is some evidence of an exposure-response relationship between the
occurrence of breast cancer and the length of time working night shifts, it is
probably not sufficiently strong to suggest limiting the length of time that
individuals continue to work night shifts. However, there are a number of
policy and guidance documents available to help manage shift work and the
associated health outcomes, and while they generally acknowledge the potential
link between shift work and breast cancer there is very little information
available on cancer prevention.
AplusA-online.de - Source: European Agency for Safety and Health at Work