Shift work and PSA values

I just came across this article because the editors at Medscape send around interesting articles on prostate cancer when you sign up for them. It seems likely to me that this is not a red herring, but the accompanying editorial goes into the issues of more holistic prostate cancer screening – with the intent to try and figure out who might really benefit rather than just screening all men over age 50. If you could reduce the denominator in some way by eliminating men who have the “usual, non-threatening” “cancer” (with a nod to all the articles suggesting we should change the nomenclature for Gleason 3+3 disease), screening might make more sense and be of greater benefit. Until then, it’s still caveat emptor.


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3 responses to “Shift work and PSA values

  1. This is far from the first such paper coming from this group at Harvard. I have lost track, though usually Eva Schernhammer is behind the studies. For most cancers, melanoma is the exception for obvious reason, working nights increases risk. Various theories are used to explain this, generally centered around lower total melatonin exposure, but some simply due to disrupted circadian cycles. I don’t know that there is any reason that we should take these elevated PSAs any less seriously. As far as I know in women, the increased risk of breast cancer from night time work shifts is no less lethal than other BCs.

    I was just reading a related paper today, apparently shift work has a greater impact on melatonin levels in Caucasian women than Asian women and this may account for a differing cancer risk. Perhaps it’s not how much tofu they eat in China (or fish, or other dietary differences) but simply a genetic difference in melatonin production. See:

  2. Geezer

    Workman’s compensation?

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