Stubborn genes: New research looks at how our bodies respond (or don’t) to night shift work

Night shift workers have a higher risk for diseases like obesity, diabetes, and cancer. Could the reason be their genes?
Source: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

In nursing, there is a rite of passage that nearly everyone goes through — night shifts.

Sometimes, the shifts are clumped together, and sometimes, they are spaced apart, said Daniel Schweitzer, a nurse in Pittsburgh. But they always seem to have the same effect on his body clock.

“When you do a few nights, you get this permanent jet lag, where you’re never quite truly awake,” he said. “Your sleep schedule gets truly messed up.”

Researchers have been studying night workers for years, trying to better understand what happens to our circadian rhythms and our

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