Does the association of prostate cancer with night-shift work differ according to rotating vs. fixed schedule? A systematic review and meta-analysis

Prostate Cancer Prostatic Dis. 2018 Sep;21(3):337-344. doi: 10.1038/s41391-018-0040-2. Epub 2018 Apr 27.


Background: Recent studies suggested that the relation between night-shift work and prostate cancer may differ between rotating and fixed schedules.

Objectives: We aimed to quantify the independent association between night-shift work and prostate cancer, for rotating and fixed schedules.

Methods: We searched MEDLINE for studies assessing the association of night-shift work, by rotating or fixed schedules, with prostate cancer. We computed summary relative risk (RR) estimates with 95% confidence intervals (95% CI) using the inverse variance method and quantified heterogeneity using the I2 statistic. Meta-regression analysis was used to compare the summary RR estimates for rotating and fixed schedules, while reducing heterogeneity.

Results: A total of nine studies assessed the effect of rotating and, in addition, four of them provided the effect of fixed night-shift work, in relation to daytime workers. Rotating night-shift work was associated with a significantly increased risk of prostate cancer (RR = 1.06, 95% CI of 1.01 to 1.12; I2 = 50%), but not fixed night-shift work (RR of 1.01, 95% CI of 0.81 to 1.26; I2 = 33%). In meta-regression model including study design, type of population, and control of confounding, the summary RR was 20% higher for rotating vs. fixed schedule, with heterogeneity fully explained by these variables.

Conclusions: This is the first meta-analysis suggesting that an increased risk of prostate cancer may be restricted to workers with rotating night shifts. However, the association was weak and additional studies are needed to further clarify this relation before it can be translated into measures for risk reduction in occupational settings.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Circadian Rhythm / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / etiology
  • Risk Assessment
  • Shift Work Schedule / adverse effects*
  • Work Schedule Tolerance / physiology*