Original article

Scand J Work Environ Health 2020;46(5):508-515    pdf full text


Night work, mortality, and the link to occupational group and sex

by Åkerstedt T, Narusyte J, Svedberg P

Objective Night shifts are associated with several major diseases. Mortality has been studied only to a limited extent, and the association with night shifts remains unclear. The purpose of the present study was to investigate the association between duration of night shift exposure and mortality in a large sample from the Swedish Twin Registry (the SALT cohort).

Methods Cox proportional hazards regression models were used to analyze the data (N=42 731) over a follow-up period of 18 years, with years of night shift work as the exposure variable and adjustment for lifestyle factors and age, and stratification on gender and occupational group.

Results The hazard ratio (HR) for “ever” night shifts for total mortality was 1.07 [95% confidence interval (CI) 1.01–1.15] but 1.15 (95% CI 1.07–1.25) for longer exposure (>5 years). Also, HR for cause-specific mortality due to cardiovascular disease was significant, with higher HR for longer night shift exposure. Mortality due to cancer was significant for longer exposure only. White-collar workers showed significant HR for longer exposure. In particular, male white-collar workers showed a significant HR, with a highest value for longer exposure [HR 1.28 (95% CI 1.09–1.49)]. Heredity did not influence the results significantly.

Conclusions Long duration of exposure to night shift work is associated with increased mortality, particularly in male white-collar workers. The lack of effects of accumulated exposure suggests that the results should be interpreted with caution.

This article refers to the following texts of the Journal: 1999;25(2):85-99  2005;31(1):30-35  2009;35(3):163-179  2017;43(2):117-126  2011;37(3):173-185