REVIEW PAPER
Night shift work and prolactin as a breast cancer risk factor
 
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Instytut Medycyny Pracy im. prof. J. Nofera / Nofer Institute of Occupational Medicine, Łódź, Poland (Zakład Epidemiologii Środowiskowej / Department of Environmental Epidemiology)
CORRESPONDING AUTHOR
Agnieszka Bukowska   

Zakład Epidemiologii Środowiskowej, Instytut Medycyny Pracy im. prof. J. Nofera, św. Teresy 8, 91-348 Łódź
 
Med Pr 2013;64(2):245–257
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ABSTRACT
Prolactin - a hormone secreted in a circadian rhythm acts as a regulator of growth and development of the mammary glands. It has been observed that working at night increases breast cancer risk in women. Night shift work, probably carcinogenic to humans (Group 2A IARC), can disrupt a circadian rhythm, and thus potentially alter the rhythm of prolactin secretion. The aim of our work was to review epidemiological evidence on the association between prolactin and the risk of breast cancer and the influence of work at night on prolactin secretion. Search was done in the Medline database by keywords (shift work, work at night, risk of breast cancer and prolactin). The increased proliferation of breast cells activated by prolactin can promote the development of cancer. The results of the largest epidemiological prospective studies suggest the association between prolactin levels and the risk of breast cancer in women. So far, only seven studies have investigated the association between work at night and prolactin secretion. In three studies lower concentrations of prolactin have been observed in night shift workers. No relationship between the night shift work duration and prolactin level in women have been reported. Night shift work can modify the profile of prolactin secretion in night workers, probably decreasing the secretion of this hormone at night. It is therefore unlikely that prolactin plays an important role in the development of breast cancer in women working at night. This conclusion is based on the results of a few epidemiological studies. Med Pr 2013;64(2):245–257
eISSN:2353-1339
ISSN:0465-5893