research must be completed into the possible link between shift working and the
potential for women to develop breast cancer, medical experts have warned.
Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has just completed a report that suggests the
link is "appreciable, but not definitive".
Anthony Swerdlow, a leading epidemiological expert and author of the report,
said further research was needed to establish and clarify any relationship
between shift patterns and cancer.
HSE commissioned this research following the publication of two articles in the
Journal of the National Cancer Institute in the US, which indicated the
possibility of a relationship and suggested that an effect of altered light
exposure at night on levels of melatonin or other hormones may affect cancer
Caldwell, co-director of policy at the HSE, said: "It is very helpful that
this review has been done. The review suggests that so far epidemiological
research is inconclusive about the link between breast cancer risk and shift
work, if any, and further research will be necessary to clarify the
take this forward, the Medical Research Council will convene a group of
national and international scientific and medical experts to advise on how the
research agenda should be progressed. Their findings will be widely