People who either work or eat at night are more at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, according to a new study.
The study published in the journal Diabetes Care revealed that people who periodically work the night shift are more at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. The study was carried out by a team of researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder and Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston who looked at the effects of past and current night shift work on the onset of Type 2 diabetes.
In the study, the research team analyzed the data of participants aged between 38 and 71 years old in the U.K. Biobank. The participants gave detailed information on their lifestyle, health status, and current work schedule. Moreover, 77,000 of them gave in-depth lifetime employment information, and a subgroup of 44,000 provided genetic information. In addition, they gave information about their “chronotype,” or whether they were a morning person or a night person. Of all the participants, approximately 7,000 of them had Type 2 diabetes.
The findings of the study revealed that the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes increased as the number of nights employees work also increased, regardless of whether they are genetically at risk initially or not. In addition, the research team found that individuals who worked on irregular or rotating shifts that included night schedules had a 44 percent higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, in comparison to those who never worked at night. Furthermore, those who worked eight or more night shifts each month were 36 percent more likely to develop diabetes in comparison to those who only work during the day. Interestingly, the researchers also found that those who only worked at night did not show any increased risk of the condition. They explained that this could be because those who tolerate nightshift work better are more likely to be inclined toward night jobs.
"Shift work, particularly night shifts, disrupts social and biological rhythms, as well as sleep, and has been suggested to increase the risk of metabolic disorders, including Type 2 diabetes," said co-first author Celine Vetter, director of the Circadian and Sleep Epidemiology Laboratory (CASEL) at CU Boulder.
Some people may partially adapt to working nights, but rotating through a schedule that is constantly changing between day and night shifts makes it difficult to adapt and could possibly lead to a long-term misalignment between the person's light-dark cycle, sleep-wake schedule, meal schedule, and physical activity timing, according to Vetter. Since working the night shift is inevitable for some, Vetter suggested that it is important to maintain a healthy weight and diet, get regular exercise, and get good quality sleep in order to alleviate its health risks. (Related: Working the Night Shift Promotes Cancer.)
A study published in the journal Experimental Physiology revealed that eating at night increases the risk of heart disease. Researchers from the National Autonomous University of Mexico assessed the levels of fat called triglycerides in the blood of mice. In the study, they fed the mice at the start of their rest phase, or bed time and active phase, or daytime. Through this, they found that the blood fat levels of the rats increased more dramatically when they were fed during their resting period compared to when they were fed during their active period.
Furthermore, when the researchers removed the brain part of the mice that was responsible for the 24-hour cycle, no change in fat levels was observed.
“The fact that we can ignore our biological clock is important for survival; we can decide to sleep during the day when we are extremely tired or we run away from danger at night,” explained Ruud Buijs, one of the study authors. “However, doing this frequently -- with shift work, jet lag, or staying up late at night -- will harm our health in the long-term especially when we eat at times when we should sleep.”
Read more news stories and studies on diabetes at DiabetesScienceNews.news.