Denmark’s government has begun paying out compensation to 40 women with breast cancer, after the UN health body said that working nights probably increased the risk of the disease. To qualify for the pay-out, the women could not have had a history of breast cancer in the family, and they must have developed the disease after working at least one night shift a week for 20 to 30 years. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) maintains that shift work is as bad in terms of cancer risk as anabolic steroids, ultraviolet radiation and diesel engine exhaust. Doctors at the IARC believed that alterations in sleep patterns could lower the body’s production of melatonin (which helps prevent cancer).
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