Working overnight has long-term effects on women's health

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By KYW Newsradio 1060

KYW Newsradio’s Medical Reports are sponsored by Independence Blue Cross. 

By Dr. Brian McDonough, Medical Editor
PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — For those of us who have worked night shifts over the years, we know how this can interfere with our natural sleep rhythms and impact metabolism. 

One of the fields where night shifts are quite common is nursing. Researchers have studied more than 80,000 nurses over the course of 22 years, and they discovered the expected results, but they were also surprised by the fact that nurses who regularly were placed on night shifts experienced menopause earlier. 

Researchers looked at nurses who averaged three night shifts a month. In this group, the risk of entering menopause before age 45 increased by 25 percent. The scientists believe this was due to disruption of circadian rhythms.