Retired Night Shift Workers at Higher Risk of Diabetes

Several studies have demonstrated that individuals who work the night shift suffer from health problems more frequently than those who work daytime schedules and sleep at night. However, a recent study has shown that even when those workers retire and return to a “normal” schedule, there remains an increased risk for developing type two diabetes. Individuals with diabetes have to monitor their blood glucose levels closely, using products such as true track test strips, freestyle lite testing strips, or Prodigy auto code systems. Diabetic accessories, while increasingly affordable in recent years, still add up to a significant cost; in addition, diabetes can affect long-term health and quality of life.


The study, released in the Journal of Biological Rhythms, complements existing international research which has determined that night shift work is associated with impaired glucose metabolism, impaired metabolic health, and increases both in BMI (body mass index) and insulin resistance. The Pitt study is the first to examine the increased risks in a large sample of retired men and women with varying pre-retirement occupations who are no longer subject to the stresses of night shift work. For the study, researchers interviewed more than 1,000 retired workers over 65 years old living in western Pennsylvania, and divided the respondents into 5 groups: those who had not worked night shifts, those who had worked night shifts from one to seven years, for eight to 14 years, for 15 to 20 years, and for more than 20 years. The findings are worrying, considering the worldwide diabetes epidemic, which leads to increasingly large numbers of individuals having to take medicines to help regulate their blood sugar levels, as well as monitoring blood-glucose with prodigy auto code systems, or freestyle lite testing strips or true track test strips.


The results of the study showed that both BMI and diabetes rates were higher in retired former night shift workers than in retired daytime workers; in addition, night shift retirees were approximately two times more likely to be diabetic than day workers if they also had a higher BMI. Even when BMI was excluded as a factor, diabetes risk remained higher for night shift workers, at a rate of 1.4 times more likely. Importantly, diabetes risk within the five shift-work-exposed groups did not differ, suggesting that any exposure to night shift work can increase risk. Timothy H. Monk, Ph.D., D.Sc., said of the study’s findings, “We ought to recognize that there is a health cost to society of exposing large numbers of people to night shift work. Steps should be taken both to encourage day work as an alternative wherever possible, and also to provide education and support for employees who are in occupations that, by their very nature, require work at night.” Of course, for those who develop diabetes, the diagnosis can be life-changing, but with proper monitoring of blood glucose using blood glucose test systems like the Prodigy auto code, and purchasing diabetic accessories to accompany test kits such as freestyle lite testing strips or true track test strips, it’s possible to have a healthy lifestyle even with type two diabetes.


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