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‘Frequent night shifts can damage your DNA’

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Health Desk- Feb 02, 2019: A study has warned that lack of proper sleep and night-time wakefulness can cause damage to the structure of the human DNA and lead to many diseases, including cancer and diabetes, as well as cardiovascular, neurological and pulmonary diseases.

The study shows that DNA repair gene expression is lower at baseline among night workers and further decreases after acute sleep deprivation, which supports the postulation that night workers demonstrate impaired DNA repair.

The findings showed that people who are required to work overnight demonstrate 30 per cent higher DNA breaks as compared with those not required to work overnight, and this DNA damage is further increased by over 25 per cent after a night of acute sleep deprivation.

Research Associate at the University of Hong Kong SW Choi said, “DNA damage is a change in the basic structure of DNA that is not repaired when the DNA is replicated”.

For the study, the team examined a small group of healthy full-time doctors, average age between 28 and 33, who donated a sample of blood after three days of adequate sleep.

Doctors who worked the night shift then had additional blood sampled the morning after, following acute sleep deprivation.

The study was published in the Anesthesia academic journal.