It’s unavoidable in many professions, but doing overnight shifts comes with its own unique set of potential health issues.
But for women in nursing – a job that often involves punishing hours – a new health risk has come to light.
According to a new study, nurses who regularly undertake night shifts are in danger of going through the menopause early.
In fact, even occasional night shifts can increase your chances of early menopause by nine per cent, RSVP Live reports.
It’s not just the early menopause which could be a grave side-effect of working shifts. Cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis and even memory problems could all become issues.
The study was carried out among 80,000 nurses who worked night shifts over the course of 22 years.
Researchers focused on nurses who did at least three overnight shifts a month in addition to day and evening shifts.
For the participants who went through the menopause before the age of 45, this number of night shifts increased the risk of early menopause by 25 per cent.
If they had done occasional night shifts for more than 20 years, the risk rose to 73 per cent.
Dr David Stock, who led the study from the University of Dalhousie in Canada explained: “This is the first study into a link between rotating night shifts and age at menopause, and we found a moderate but significant link.
“For women who went through the menopause before the age of 45, shift work seemed to be particularly important.
“This could be due to disruption of their circadian rhythms, stress or fatigue, although more research is needed.
“Women already prone to earlier menopause may further truncate their reproductive lifetime by working schedules comprising day as well as night shifts.”