Personal injury news

Danish night workers given compensation for breast cancer

Personal injury compensation for UK night workers could be a future possibility as the Danish government has set precedent by paying damages to women who have suffered breast cancer as a result of long term night shift working.

According to The Independent the Lyon based International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) reviewed epidemiological studies of nurses and flight attendants and found that "circadian disruption" of sleep patterns was "probably carcinogenic". Animal studies backed up the conclusions that constant artificial light, dim light and jet lag boost tumour development.

The IARC review said there was a "modest, less than twofold increase in risk". However, an earlier US study suggested a 50 per cent increase in breast cancer among night workers.

One report, reviewed as part of the IARC study, found a 36 per cent breast cancer risk increase in women who had been working nights for 30 years, compared with those who had not.

Speaking to the BBC, Professor Andrew Watterson, an occupational health specialist at the University of Stirling, said the UK have not yet recognised night work risks in the way the Danes have.

He said, "We don't tend to identify the damage being done where shift working is prevalent and I think that's an error."

"The damage is there but we don't see it and we don't count it."

At present, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) are awaiting results of a report by the Oxford University that is due for completion in 2011. A spokesperson has said until the results prove otherwise the present argument for awarding personal injury compensation to long term night workers who have developed breast cancer is "not that compelling".


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