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Mei Yong and Michael Nasterlack

Shift Work and Cancer: State of Science and Practical Consequences

In 2007, an expert Working Group convened by the IARC Monographs Programme concluded that shift work that involves circadian disruption is probably carcinogenic to humans (Group 2A). We scrutinised the epidemiological basis for this conclusion, with a focus on, but not limited to, breast and prostate cancers. We further considered practical consequences for shift workers in our industry against the background of new findings.

We carried out a literature search including the epidemiological studies cited by IARC and newer available literature on shift work and cancer.

Since the IARC assessment, eleven new studies have emerged, ten of which have already been published, with inconclusive results. Heterogeneity of exposure metrics and study outcomes and emphasis on positive but non-significant results make it difficult to draw general conclusions. Also, several reviews and commentaries, which have been published meanwhile, came to equivocal results. Published evidence is widely seen as suggestive but inconclusive for an adverse association between night work and breast cancer, and limited and inconsistent for cancers at other sites and all cancers combined.

At this point in time it can not be ruled out that shift work including night work may increase the risk for some cancers in those who perform it. However, shift schedules can be organised in ways that minimise the associated health risks, and the risks may be further reduced through the implementation of structured and sustained health promotion programs specifically tailored to the needs of shift workers.

Open access

Qi Huang, Xue-Feng Sun, Hong-Li Lin, Zhi-Min Zhang, Li-Rong Hao, Li Yao, Ji-Jun Li, De-Long Zhao, Yong Wang, Han-Yu Zhu and Xiang-Mei Chen


Objective: The objective was to increase the understanding of vascular access in hemodialysis and evaluate hemodialysis-related anticoagulation treatments and the associated hemorrhagic or thrombotic complications. Materials and Methods: In this study, an epidemiological investigation was conducted in 1175 patients who underwent hemodialysis in seven blood purification centers in northern Chinese. The patients were divided into two groups based on the vascular access they used: Arteriovenous fistula (AVF) group and central venous catheter (CVC) group. The similarities and differences of anticoagulation and hemorrhagic, thrombotic complications were compared between two groups. Results: Arteriovenous fistula was the most frequently used vascular access, and heparin was the most commonly used anticoagulant. Patients in CVC group experienced significantly greater rates of low molecular weight heparin (LMWH) administration and had a higher rate in achieving thrombotic complications than those in AVF group. There were no significant differences in LMWH dosages in patients with thrombotic complications, as well as the proportion of patients who received anti-platelet drugs. Heparinized catheter lock solutions were excessively high in this study, which may lead to a risk of hemorrhage. Conclusion: Hemodialysis-related anticoagulation treatments in China require additional improvements, especially for the patients using CVC as vascular access. There is an urgent need to develop clinical evaluation studies of anticoagulation treatments for achieving more standardized and targeted treatments.