Posted by: twotrees | May 14, 2010

Circadian Disruption

Learning is a lifelong endeavor and you never know where your next lesson will come from. 

Richard is the fellow who sells cactus and succulents at the farmer’s market  in downtown Ventura.  Most every Saturday morning, he and I exchange pleasantries and discuss the ways of the world over the past week. 

I don’t know why but somehow this past weekend we got on the subject of Human Resources, an area of expertise for Richard.  I said something, he said another and then came the words that caught my attention.   “People who work at night have a higher rate of cancer than normal.” said Richard.

  “Hmmm, that’s interesting,” I replied.  Of course, the moment I returned to my car armed with my weekly allotment of carrots, lettuce, strawberries and sprouted seeds, I quickly wrote down the line for future investigation.

Working the night shift may cause cancer, according to a report published in The Lancet in 2007.   The report comes from a team of 44 scientists in 10 countries commissioned by the World Health Organization’s International Agency on Cancer Research.  As posted on the Web MD site,   the scientists concluded that “shift work that involves circadian rhythm disruption is probably carcinogenic to humans,” write Kurt Straif, MD, and colleagues.  It goes on to state that such disruption “may raise cancer risk by suppressing production of melatonin, a chemical involved in the circadian rhythm.

I’ve used melatonin as a sleep aid during times when I’ve been too exhausted to get a good night’s sleep.  Wonder if I should think about taking it more often now?


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