Night shift work and risk of breast cancer in women: the Generations Study cohort

Michael E Jones, Minouk J Schoemaker, Emily C McFadden, Lauren B Wright, Louise E Johns, Anthony J Swerdlow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: It is plausible that night shift work could affect breast cancer risk, possibly by melatonin suppression or circadian clock disruption, but epidemiological evidence is inconclusive.

METHODS: Using serial questionnaires from the Generations Study cohort, we estimated hazard ratios (HR) and 95% confidence intervals (95%CI) for breast cancer in relation to being a night shift worker within the last 10 years, adjusted for potential confounders.

RESULTS: Among 102,869 women recruited in 2003-2014, median follow-up 9.5 years, 2059 developed invasive breast cancer. The HR in relation to night shift work was 1.00 (95%CI: 0.86-1.15). There was a significant trend with average hours of night work per week (P = 0.035), but no significantly raised risks for hours worked per night, nights worked per week, average hours worked per week, cumulative years of employment, cumulative hours, time since cessation, type of occupation, age starting night shift work, or age starting in relation to first pregnancy.

CONCLUSIONS: The lack of overall association, and no association with all but one measure of dose, duration, and intensity in our data, does not support an increased risk of breast cancer from night shift work in women.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)172-179
Number of pages8
JournalBritish journal of cancer
Issue number2
Early online date29 May 2019
Publication statusPublished - 16 Jul 2019


  • Adult
  • Breast Neoplasms/chemistry
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Receptor, ErbB-2/analysis
  • Risk Factors
  • Shift Work Schedule/adverse effects

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