Although humans living in dark harmony with vampires is a popular entertainment theme, it is far from a healthy reality. New scientific evidence proves that working the “graveyard shift” may put women in an early grave. This is important information for October's Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Here are three health tips to follow if you are working the graveyard shift.
We are wired to rise with the sun and sleep beneath the moon. Following natural sleep patterns help us stay healthy. The invention of electricity gave us artificial day at night. We extended our work hours. Has progress negatively impacted our health by turning our internal clock upside down? Questions surrounding the consequences of disrupted sleep patterns may have finally been answered.
A newly published Danish study set up a case-control group from more than 15,500 women who had been in the Danish military. Of those, 141 with breast cancer and 551 without filled in a 28-page questionnaire on work and lifestyle. But the analysis was only based on 132 cases and 505 controls.
The study also stated that women working three nights a week were at a 40% higher risk of getting breast cancer than women who did not. That number doubled to 80% if they worked 6 nights a week.
Rachel Crowson of American Radio News Network called me at home to comment on air about this breaking news.
RC: “Kathleen, you are a three-time breast cancer survivor who wrote the book, Surviving Cancerland: The Intuitive Aspects of Healing. Would you please comment on this new finding?”
K: “It brings to light the health challenges of daytime vs nighttime workers when the obvious difference is natural light. Sunlight and darkness at the appropriate time is important to humans. The hormone melatonin is produced in the body during sleep cycles and regulates wake cycles. It is also a calming agent. Night shift workers may lack adequate amounts of it because the synthesis and release of melatonin are stimulated by darkness. Night workers are exposed to long hours of florescent light which inhibits melatonin production, and the room they sleep in during the day may not be dark enough to stimulate it either. Another consideration is the lack of cancer fighting vitamin D due to daytime sleep patterns. Scientific study has linked vitamin D deficiency to cancer.”
RC: “Kathleen, your story is pretty profound. Would you please share it with us?”
K: “I’m a three-time stage-four breast cancer survivor. What makes my story unique is that I used my female intuitive abilities through dreams to diagnose myself after doctors at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute told me I was healthy. I actually forced them into two operations they originally refused to perform where my true condition was revealed.”
RC: “How did you get doctors to listen to your dreams?”
K: “I didn’t. My healing journey was a double blind study between conventional medical tests and Intuitive dreams. It is a story of faith, intuitive ability, and contact with a Higher Order that gave me the strength to ignore the weight of incorrect medical opinion and the statistical survival chances to survive. I always worked with my conventional doctors, but never forgot to make the final decisions. I think it is important to point out that my dreams told me to go back to my doctors rather than looking for Swami-wami Ramalama-ding-dong. My dreams had faith in my doctors.
RC: How does your story fit into this new study?”
K: “Listen to your body. Deficiencies that lead to illness will make themselves known with signs, signals and symptoms. Our bodies have been speaking to us since the beginning of time. Believe in your Inner guidance.”
RC: “What do you see as a solution to this study? Is there an answer?”
K: “As long as two paychecks are required in homes to make ends meet, and there is a need for round-the-clock health care, there will be night shift workers and increased stress levels. Until more research is done on this information:
1.) I suggest taking vitamin D and melatonin supplements before bed. Melatonin can also help you get that much needed sleep after a long night of work and
2.) vitamin D will help put back some sunshine into your life.
3.) Listen to your body. It also speaks to us through dreams."
According to WebMD and the Mayo Clinic, the hormone melatonin is produced in the brain by the pineal gland.
Lisa Wilde, director of research at Breast Cancer Campaign, said: “Night shift working and breast cancer risk is a hugely complex area and two of the biggest risk factors – diet and physical activity outside of working hours – weren’t considered in this study.”
It would be paradise to work substantial week-day nine-to-five jobs. The reality is our economic challenges have put many families in financial crisis. Unable to afford child care, one parent works day shifts while the other stays home with the children. At night those roles are reversed. Many mothers work the graveyard-shifts in caregiver facilities like hospitals. It pays time and a half.
Coupled with financial problems, working night shift jobs can cause profound stress. Stress is a proven killer and is cited as one of the reasons for an increase in cancer.
Until we can all have the ideal life, job opportunities and work environment, do your body a favor; don’t put it in an early grave. Fortify it with supplements and exercise, empower it with love, and listen to it. You chose it for this lifetime. Don’t wear it out before its time. Meditate, count your blessings, and thank your Higher Power for guidance.
About the author: Kathleen O’Keefe-Kanavos is a repped author, Radio Host, Q&A cancer columnist for Cape Women Online Magazine, & R.A. BLOCH Cancer Foundation Hotline Counselor, Patheos blogger, BreastCancerYoga and Om Times contributor, Follow her on her social sites from her website @ www.survivingcancerland.com