Thyroid hormones are regulated by the pituitary thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), whose secretion presents a circadian rhythmicity. Indeed, it is conceivable that shift- and night shift-work, affecting sleep-wake rhythms, may impact thyroid functionality. Therefore, the aim of the present review was to provide an overview on the association between shift- and night shift-work and thyroid hormonal changes and disease development. A systematic review of studies available in PubMed, Scopus, and ISI Web of Science databases was performed. A positive association between night shift-work and increased TSH concentrations was reported by most of the reviewed investigations. Inconclusive evidence was available on thyroid diseases. However, the limited number of studies, the noticeable heterogeneity in the shift-work scheduling, in terms of amount, duration, type of shift- or night shift-work, prevents easily integrating findings and extrapolating definite conclusions. Further investigation seems necessary to better define the relationship between shift schedules and different thyroid outcomes, and possible long-term implications of early functional changes. Overall, this may support the adoption of advanced risk assessment and management strategies aimed to achieve a safer workplace organization and a timely, responsible realization of all the benefits of a 24-h economy.
Keywords: 24-h economy; aging; night-work; occupational risk factors; risk assessment; risk management; shift-work; thyroid; thyroid hormones; work schedule.