Night work and breast cancer risk among Norwegian nurses: assessment by different exposure metrics

Am J Epidemiol. 2011 Jun 1;173(11):1272-9. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwr014. Epub 2011 Mar 31.


Associations between night work and breast cancer risk were investigated in a nested case-control study within a cohort of 49,402 Norwegian nurses. A total of 699 (74%) of the live cases diagnosed in 1990-2007 and 895 (65%) controls, cancer free at the time of sampling, were interviewed about work history and potential risk factors. The odds ratios for risk of breast cancer in relation to different exposure metrics were estimated by multivariate unconditional logistic regression models. No increase of risk was found after long duration of work by nurses working ≥3 night shifts per month. Small, nonsignificantly increased risks were observed for exposure to ≥30 years in hospitals or other institutions (odds ratio (OR) = 1.1), ≥12 years in schedules including night work (OR = 1.3), ≥1,007 night shifts during the lifetime (OR = 1.2), and lifetime average number of ≥4 night shifts per month (OR = 1.2). Nonsignificantly increased risks of breast cancer were observed in nurses who worked ≥5 years with ≥4 (OR = 1.4) and ≥5 (OR = 1.6) consecutive night shifts. Significantly increased risks were seen in nurses who worked ≥5 years with ≥6 consecutive night shifts (OR = 1.8, 95% confidence interval: 1.1, 2.8). The results suggest that risk may be related to number of consecutive night shifts.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Body Mass Index
  • Breast Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Norway
  • Nurses*
  • Risk Factors
  • Time Factors
  • Work Schedule Tolerance*