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If you are a woman and have been assigned night shifts at the workplace for long, be a little concerned about your health.

According to new research, continuous shifts at irregular hours may increase the risk of common cancers among women.

The researchers found that overall, long-term night-shift work among women increased the risk of cancer by 19%.

Of all the occupations analysed, nurses had the highest risk of developing breast cancer if they worked the night shift.

“Our study indicates that night-shift work serves as a risk factor for common cancers in women,” said Xuelei Ma, co-author of the study from the West China Medical Centre of Sichuan University in Chengdu, China.

For the study, published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, researchers performed a meta-analysis using data from 61 articles comprising 114628 cancer cases and 3909152 participants from North America, Europe, Australia and Asia.

The articles consisted of 26 cohort studies, 24 case-control studies and 11 nested case-control studies.

These studies were analysed for an association between long-term night-shift work and the risk of 11 types of cancer.

When analysing specific cancers, the researchers found that this population had an increased risk of skin (41%), breast (32%) and gastrointestinal cancer (18%) compared with women who did not perform long-term night-shift work.

“Long-term night-shift workers should have regular physical examinations and cancer screenings,” emphasised Ma.