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Physiol Behav. 2015 Apr 1;142:121-5. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2015.01.020. Epub 2015 Jan 19.

The effect of shift work on red blood cell distribution width.

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The University of Mississippi, Center for Health Behavior Research, University, MS, United States. Electronic address:


Limited research demonstrates that shift work (e.g., evening shift, night shift, rotating shift) increases the risk of certain health outcomes, such as hypertriglyceridemia and metabolic syndrome. Red blood cell distribution width (RDW), which is commonly assessed and reported by physicians, is a novel biomarker of cardiovascular disease. However, no study has examined the association of shift work on RDW, which was the purpose of this study. Data from the 2005-2010 NHANES were used. RDW was assessed from a blood sample; shift work was assessed from a questionnaire, and various demographic, behavioral/psychological, occupational, and biological parameters were included as covariates. The fully adjusted model showed that the odds of having an elevated RDW for women on rotating shift vs. day shift increased by 46% (OR=1.46; 95% CI: 1.03-2.08). Women on a rotating shift had increased odds of having an elevated RDW, which is concerning as elevated RDW increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and mortality. Health care professionals are encouraged to include questions about organization of work schedules and their tolerance of such schedules during the patient's consultation.


Cardiovascular disease; Epidemiology; Work schedule

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