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Monday, April 8, 2019

Shift Work Reportedly Causally Related to Increase Risk of Diabetes and Heart Disease

Shift work has been shown to be associated with heart and metabolic disorders. A recently published study reports exactly how shift work is causally related in the long-term to both diabetes and heart disease. Workers’ Compensation claims may increase for such diseases going forward for injured workers seeking benefits for such medical conditions.

The report published in The Psychological Society (April 2, 2019) concluded that “…rotational night shift duties in healthcare workers might have a negative impact on metabolic parameters, including postprandial triglyceride responses and insulin sensitivity.” 

The US Department of Labor stressed that long hours and/ or change of work hours can cause fatigue associated with increase injuries at work. “Several factors including too little, poor quality or interrupted sleep over a period of time can cause fatigue. Fatigue is the body's signal that a rest period is needed. Long work hours and extended and irregular shifts may be stressful physically, mentally and emotionally. The body operates on a circadian rhythm sleep/wake cycle. It is naturally programmed for sleeping during night hours. Demanding work schedules may disrupt the body's natural cycle, leading to increased fatigue, stress and lack of concentration.” 

An earlier study in the British Medical Journal revealed that, “The main physiological consequence of such shift schedules is disruption of circadian rhythm which can have a deleterious effect on performance, sleep patterns, accident rates, mental health, and cardiovascular mortality. Reproductive outcome effects may be linked to disruption of menstrual cycles. Individual issues such as sex, age, and personality are also important.” 

Diabetes cases are leveling off in the US, but the number is still enormous: over 100 million people (9.4% of the US Population) in the United States have diabetes or prediabetes. 2 out of 5 Americans are expected to develop type 2 diabetes in their lifetime. See the National Diabetes Statistic Report, 2017. Reported risk factors include: smoking, overweight and obesity, physical activity. High blood pressure, high cholesterol (hyperlipidemia) and high blood glucose. 

Heart disease is a very prevalent and serious medical condition, About 610,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year–that’s 1 in every 4 deaths. Coronary heart disease (CHD) is the most common heart disease, killing over 370,000 people annually. See, CDC, NCHS. Underlying Cause of Death 1999-2013 on CDC WONDER Online Database, released 2015. Data are from the Multiple Cause of Death Files, 1999-2013, as compiled from data provided by the 57 vital statistics jurisdictions through the Vital Statistics Cooperative Program. 

Establishing a causal relationship link between shift work and increased risk for diabetes and/or heart disease will have a substantial impact on potential workers’ compensation claims. The economic incentive may cause additional effort by all stakeholders to establish and expand wellness programs targeting workers works schedules in an ever changing concept of employment status. 

Keithellakpam Kiranmala, Mohammad Aslam, Brijesh Kumar Mishra, Rajat Jhamb, Sri Venkata Madhu. Association of postprandial triglyceride responses with insulin resistance among rotational night shift healthcare workers. Experimental Physiology, 2019; DOI: 10.1113/EP087514)

See also:
Official Disabilities Guidelines Now Covers Diabetes (Workers Compensation Blog 3/26/13)
Working Long Hours Tied to Diabetes Risk (NY Times 9/30/14)
Study: People who work long hours in low-wage jobs experience higher risk of diabetes (Workers Compensation Blog 9/27/14)
Study: Working-age males more susceptible to severe flu (Workers Compensation Blog 1/21/14)
Mediterranean Diet and Workplace Health Promotion (Workers Compensation Blog 10/20/14)
Avoidable Deaths from Heart Disease, Stroke and Hypertensive Disease (Workers Compensation Blog 9/4/13

Jon L. Gelman of Wayne NJ is the author of NJ Workers’ Compensation Law (West-Thomson-Reuters) and co-author of the national treatise, Modern Workers’ Compensation Law (West-Thomson-Reuters).