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Downside Of Shift Work To Human Health

Shift work has been linked to certain chronic diseases and illnesses. Long-term night shift work is associated with an increased risk of certain cancers, as well as metabolic problems, heart disease, ulcers, gastrointestinal problems and obesity.

Shift work is done either as a result of the kind of duty one performs; whether as a Police Officer, a Nurse, a Doctor, a Journalist, a Factory worker etc. This engagement is common in the media industry, manufacturing companies, retail shops, healthcare facilities and hospitality.

For financial reasons, some do more than two jobs per day, others work morning, afternoon and evening believing they are running a normal working schedule. In cities like Lagos where shift work is common, everybody is parting his night time to do one or two things extra.

Workers wake very early to do things before they set out for work and other engagements but in all of these, they do not see it as working extended periods. The normal working schedule expected for workers is between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Some medical experts believe extended working hours impair sleep and the human mental capacity to function at various other things.

A Paediatric Neurologist, Dr Okunola Olusola, from the University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH), says shift work has a devastating effect on the human body.

According to him, the human body has a normal reading that is regulated by sunlight. “Shift work damages the normal cycle that is in the body. “If the sun rises, there’s certain hormonal activities and functions in the body that comes to their peak in the early hours of the morning to help us to wake up, takes us through the day, then as the day darkens, those activities are suppressed so that we can prepare for the night to sleep and rest.

“So, when the hormone of sleep and rest are supposed to be functioning, the light is on (the person is awake) because the person is engaged in various activities.

“Because the hormones are not functioning the way they are supposed to, and the system not driven the way it should, it then exposes the individual to risks of various conditions. “Sicknesses such as heart problem, gastrointestinal problems, ulcer, diarrhea, constipation will surface.

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