sleepy, working late
Results linked work shift to nine percent increased risk of developing diabetes.Grant Lindsay/Flickr

People who do shift work, particularly men, are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than others, says a new study.

The findings, published in the Occupational & Environmental Medicine, thus placed diabetes to the long list of health problems linked to shift work including cancer, cardiovascular diseases and digestive disorders, according to a news release.

For the study, researchers from the Huazhong University of Science and Technology, China used data from 12 international studies. The studies included details about more than 2, 26,500 people, including 14,600 diabetic patients. Researchers mainly concentrated on office hours and its association with the chronic disease.

Results linked work shift to nine percent increased risk of developing diabetes. Rotating shifts that involved working at different timings during the 24 hours than following a fixed pattern posed greatest risk (42 percent). The association was stronger in men than women. Compared to men who worked normal office hours, those working on rotating shifts, had 37 percent greater risk of the disease. However, they couldn't find such an association with mixed and evening shifts.

"The result suggests that male shift workers should pay more attention to the prevention of diabetes," researchers said, according to BBC. "Given the increasing prevalence of shift work worldwide and the heavy economic burden of diabetes, the results of our study provide practical and valuable clues for the prevention of diabetes."

Though researchers couldn't explain the exact reasons behind this occurrence, they cited some studies that linked low levels of male hormones, resulting from repeated disruption of the internal body clock, to insulin resistance and diabetes.

Another reason put forward by them was the absence of a regular sleep-wake cycle associated with shift work. There has solid evidence to show that sleep deprivation or poor sleep can lead to insulin resistance. They also mentioned some factors linked to diabetes like weight gain, increased appetite involved with shift work.

Type 1 diabetes occurs when pancreatic cells (produce hormone insulin that regulates blood sugar in the body) are destroyed by immune system of the body. Type 1 diabetes requires daily insulin injections to survive. In Type 2 diabetes, the body develops resistance to insulin. Type 2 diabetes normally affects people aged 40 or above.

Nearly 62 million Indians are diabetic and nearly 44 lakh Indians, aged between 20 and 79, are unaware that they are diabetic, according to a 2012 report. The disease claimed nearly 10 lakh lives in 2011. If left untreated or undiagnosed, diabetes can increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases (strokes, heart attack), cause damages to the kidney, eye, nerve, foot, and lead to cancer.

Though the study was more concentrated on men, rotating shifts has long been known to pose risks to women also. In April 2011, a team of American researchers reported that women who work rotating shifts were more likely to develop irregular menstrual periods than others.