The National Centre for Research and Development



CORE; Programme area: health; ID: 196940



Project title: Breast cancer risk and epigenetic effects of the rotating night shift work and lifestyle




Project Promoter: Nofer Institute of Occupational Medicine


Polish partners: -


Norwegian Partners: National Institute of Occupational Health


Project cost (EUR): 955 776


Grant amount (EUR): 955 776

Duration: 41 months






Project summary:

Breast cancer is the most common cancer, accounting for 22.8 % of the total number of the incident cancer cases worldwide (Globocan, 2008). The influence of the night shift work on cancers incidence risk has drawn much attention of researchers and stakeholders over the last years worldwide, including Norway and Poland.
In spite of growing body of evidence suggesting link between night shift work and breast cancer risk, the mechanisms underlying this association remain to be elucidated.
The primary focus of the proposal will be to investigate the association between night shift work and breast cancer risk and epigenetic changes related to the night shift work. A major epigenetic mechanism that may affect gene expression in disease is changes in the methylation level of 5-methylcytosine (5meC) in the promoter regions of the genes. Global methylation and methylation status of the promoters of core circadian genes, melatonin receptors, estrogen and progesterone receptors, cell cycle regulatory genes, and tumour suppressor genes will be analyzed. Data and biological samples from two epidemiological studies: nested case-control study in the Norwegian nurses cohort and cross-sectional study of nurses and midwives in Poland will be analyzed. In the Norwegian study, methylation levels in DNA from breast cancer cases and controls will be compared. In both the Norwegian and Polish studies, the effects of night shift work on epigenetic changes will be analyzed. Associations between lifestyle factors: diet, alcohol consumption, smoking physical activity, sleep deprivation and methylation of the tumour suppressor genes will be investigated. This exploratory study has a potential of elucidating a novel mechanism by which night shift may influence breast cancer. Because some epigenetic events are preventable, the results obtained from this study could lead to new strategies for cancer prevention.


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