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Beware the Night Shift

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Carla Finkielstein, a molecular biologist at Virginia Tech, says that working the night shift may increase a woman's risk of developing breast cancer, according to Science Nation's Miles O'Brien. "Women that work the night shift have higher incidence of breast cancer," Finkielstein says. The theory is that altering a woman's body clock could also alter her body chemistry and prod healthy cells into becoming cancerous. Some studies have shown that women working the night shift have more of a certain protein that controls how cells divide and grow, O'Brien says. Using frog embryos, Finkielstein injects those proteins into frog cells to see their effect. "We believe they'll end up in an abnormal proliferation of cancer cells," she says. Finkielstein also uses human cancer cells to study whether radiation treatment is more effective at certain times of the day. "People who actually have the disease can receive the treatments at the time of day when the medicine is more effective," she adds.

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