HSE to investigate potential links between breast cancer and night shifts
The Health and Safety Executive has commissioned research on potential links between breast cancer and night shifts.
The move comes as a Danish study published in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine, shows night shift work was linked to a 40% increase in the risk of women developing breast cancer.
The research found women who had worked nights at least three times a week for six years or more were more than twice as likely to have breast cancer as those who had not.
Cancer research groups in the UK say the issue of night working and cancer risk is complex and have expressed caution about the latest research findings, saying diet and physical exercise were not taken into account.
The HSE has asked the cancer epidemiology unit at Oxford University to research links between cancer and changes to people's body clocks due to work shifts.
It says: "The HSE's current position on whether night shift work leads to increased cancer risk is that no causal link has been established thus far. This is the subject of the current ongoing study into breast cancer specifically, which is due to conclude in 2015. Until such time as the findings from this study are known it is not possible to speculate further. However, HSE will carefully study and take into consideration the findings of the new Danish report."