Night work, chronotype and risk of endometrial cancer in the Screenwide case-control study

Occup Environ Med. 2022 Feb 24;oemed-2021-108080. doi: 10.1136/oemed-2021-108080. Online ahead of print.


Background: Circadian disruption caused by night work has been associated with hormonal-related cancers such as breast and prostate cancer. Data on the role of circadian factors in the aetiology of endometrial cancer, an oestrogen-associated cancer, are scarce.

Methods: We examined the association between endometrial cancer and night shift work, chronotype (a characteristic correlating with preference for morning or evening activity) and sleep duration, in 180 incident cases and 218 hospital controls. Participants were interviewed face-to-face by trained interviewers to collect information on sociodemographic factors, familial, medical, occupational history (including work shifts), sleep duration and chronotype, and other lifestyle factors. We used logistic regression models adjusted for potential confounders to estimate ORs and 95% CIs.

Results: After adjustment by potential confounders, we found an inverse not statistically significant association between ever worked in night shifts and endometrial cancer (OR=0.64; 95% CI=0.35 to 1.16). Associations were irrespective of shift type (permanent or rotating nights) or duration of night work. We did not observe any statistically significant association between endometrial cancer and sleep duration, while inconsistent patterns were observed for chronotype and endometrial cancer risk.

Conclusions: These data do not support a role for circadian disruption in the carcinogenesis of endometrial cancer.

Keywords: circadian rhythm; epidemiology; medical oncology; shift work schedule; sleep.