Night workers have lower levels of antioxidant defenses and higher levels of oxidative stress damage when compared to day workers

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Journal: Nature
Publication Date: 03/2019
Summary: The effects of circadian misalignment and work shift on oxidative stress profile of shift workers have not been explored in the literature. The present study aimed to evaluate the role of shift work (day and night) and social jetlag – a measure of circadian misalignment – with oxidative stress markers. A cross-sectional study was performed with 79 men (21–65 years old, 27.56 ± 4.0 kg/m2) who worked the night shift (n = 37) or daytime (n = 42). The analyzed variables included anthropometric measures and determination of systemic levels of markers of oxidative damage and antioxidant defense. Social jetlag was calculated by the absolute difference between the mean sleep point on working and rest days. The night group presented higher systemic values of thiobarbituric acid reactive substances and hydrogen peroxide, and lower levels of nitrite, total antioxidant capacity, and catalase and superoxide dismutase activities in relation to the day group. However, social jetlag was not associated with oxidative stress-related biomarkers analyzed in the night group. These results suggest that the night worker has higher levels of oxidative stress damage and lower levels of antioxidant defenses, while social jetlag was not a possible responsible factor for this condition.

Key Takeaways

Shift workers experience a disruption of their circadian rhythm due to the nature of their work. When comparing lab results of shift workers and normal daytime workers, the shift workers had higher levels of oxidative stress and lower levels of antioxidants. This suggests that the nature of shift work is more stressful to the body and impairs the the body's natural intrinsic defense mechanism, which can make you more susceptible to illness, infection, cancer, etc.

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