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Metabolic disturbances in male workers with rotating three-shift work. Results of the WOLF study

Abstract

Objectives

The aim of the present study was to investigate the relationship between important metabolic risk factors for coronary heart disease (CHD) and type 2 diabetes in shift workers and day workers.

Methods

Cross-sectional data from a sub-population in the WOLF study consisting of 665 day workers and 659 three-shift workers in two plants were analysed.

Results

A higher proportion of shift workers than day workers had high triglyceride levels (≥1.7 mmol/l), low levels of HDL-cholesterol (<0.9 mmol/l) and abdominal obesity (waist/hip ratio>0.9). The risk of low HDL-cholesterol was doubled in shift workers, (odds ratio (OR): 2.02, 95% confidence interval (95% CI): 1.24–3.28) after being adjusted for age, socio-economic factors, physical activity, current smoking, social support and job strain. High levels of triglycerides were also significantly associated with shift work (OR: 1.40, 95% CI: 1.08–1.83). The OR for abdominal obesity was 1.19, (95% CI: 0.92–1.56). The prevalence of hyperglycaemia (serum glucose ≥7.0 mmol/l) was similar in day and shift workers. No significant interaction was seen between shift work and abdominal obesity with regard to the associations with triglycerides and HDL-cholesterol.

Conclusions

We found a significant association between shift work and lipid disturbances (i.e. low HDL-cholesterol and high triglyceride levels). We did not find any association with hyperglycaemia.

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Acknowledgement

This study was supported by a grant from the Swedish Work Environmental Fund. The authors would like to express their gratitude to the participants and the supportive management of the MoDo company. The collaborative part of this research was supported by the European Science Foundation Scientific Program 'Social Variations in Health Expectancy in Europe.'

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Correspondence to Berndt H. Karlsson.

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Karlsson, B.H., Knutsson, A.K., Lindahl, B.O. et al. Metabolic disturbances in male workers with rotating three-shift work. Results of the WOLF study. Int Arch Occup Environ Health 76, 424–430 (2003). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00420-003-0440-y

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00420-003-0440-y

Keywords

  • Shift work
  • Metabolic factors
  • Abdominal obesity
  • job strain