Most people who compare science with religion are forgetting one key aspect of science that does not exist within any religious system and is excluded from religion by nature. Science, unlike religion, is a self-correcting system. This is exemplified by people discovering that the world was round and not flat, and that smoking could cause lung cancer. What could be scientific heresy now could become the scientific fact of the next decade. Some researchers, following in the footsteps of the smoking-cancer connection, believe that the next medical heresy to be accepted as fact involves the perilous graveyard shift, known to some as the night shift.

There are now studies being conducted to see whether or not night shift work increases the risk for cancer. Other known carcinogens include ultraviolet radiation, anabolic steroids, and engine exhaust fumes. Apparently, the study was prompted due to the results of various studies indicating that night work had a link with the increased number of cases of breast cancer. There is also the obvious link between night shift workers and smoking, which can lead to a number of respiratory disorders even for those who don’t actually smoke. Apparently, this was prompted by one study that found a seemingly trivial correlation between an increase in night shift workers and the increase in people who get diagnosed for breast cancer. This connection, which was initially mocked by the medical community, was later substantiated with statistics. Today, more and more researchers are focusing their work on establishing clear, scientific proof of the night shift cancer connection in response to the proliferation of call centers and other business process outsourcing operations.

More recent studies have indicated that women who work in the night shift are more prone to suffer from or develop breast cancer. Cancerous cells also appeared to develop and spread faster for animals that had switched their day-night sleep cycle, with data supporting the possibility that the same could occur in humans. Prostate cancer may also be a concern for night shift workers who are male, with statistics showing that an alarmingly large number of men on the graveyard shift developing the condition. This, combined with the prevalence of smoking as a habit among night workers, is starting to make the graveyard shift seem like a genuine health risk.

However, these studies focused primarily on airline employees and medical professionals, such as nurses and doctors. As such, the data may be incomplete when one considers the number of jobs and companies that require night work to be put in. It also does not count the various types of jobs in overseas territories that are operated only at night because the clients targeted reside in opposite time zones. Still, the American Cancer Society has announced that it does have plans on adding night shift work to the list of known and probable carcinogens, which may generate some sort of reaction or backlash from companies that have graveyard shift employees. Still, the organization believes there is enough evidence to support it being labeled as “probable,” but are willing to wait for further data before pronouncing it as “known.”

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