Research

X-rays not reliable in detecting lung disease

Chest X-rays on workers exposed to dust from manufactured stone are ‘‘failing to reliably detect’’ serious lung disease, with one study showing X-rays overlooked disease in more than 40 per cent of workers, according to an item in this week's Sydney Morning Herald. The Royal College of Radiologists issued a statement last week and ‘‘strongly recommended’’ CT scanning for the screening of workers at risk of occupational lung disease such as silicosi - a potentially deadly lung diseases highly prevalent among construction and demolition workers exposed to engineered stone products with high silica dust levels, such as benchtops and tiles.

NSW workers at risk of this disease currently have access to free and subsidised X-rays through the government’s icare NSW screening clinic and the icare Lung Bus, which travels around NSW offering mobile screening. More than 6500 workers have been screened by icare since 2017 under the Dust Diseases scheme, which also tests for other workplace diseases such as mesothelioma and asbestosis. But icare’s testing practices will now be reviewed after the college revealed X-rays were‘‘failing to reliably detect disease’’ in affected
workers, while the technology lacked the‘‘sensitivity’’and accuracy of CT scans.

‘‘Silicosis is much more readily detected in a low-dose CT, a more sensitive test. That’s what you would want for your family. You want the best test,’’ college president Lance Lawler said. He said current government screening programs were effective in picking up disease and used the best of what has been available, ‘‘but we could do better’’, describing CT scanning as‘‘far superior’’. The college highlighted one study of workers in Queensland, in which 43 per cent produced normal chest X-rays only to have disease show up on a CT scan. Source: The Sydney Morning Herald

Insufficient sleep in shift workers leads to unhealthy eating

An analysis of sleep cycles has shown that poor sleep quality among shift workers increases their appetite and leads them to make unhealthy dietary choices, increasing their risk of obesity. In a study of 147 female hospital nurses working rotating shifts, Taiwanese researchers from Taipei Medical University found poorer sleep quality scores were associated with increases in body mass index. They found nurses with greater irregularity in their sleep-wake cycles were more likely to have higher BMIs. 

Shift work is a risk factor for weight gain, with research showing shift workers are more likely to be overweight and have abnormal levels of cholesterol, they said. Previous studies, like those showing that individuals with inadequate sleep and poor sleep quality are up to 1.46 times more likely to be overweight, suggest a "complex relationship" exists between sleep, metabolism and weight stability.

The researchers say their findings emphasise that maintaining a regular sleep-wake cycle and good sleep quality is important to maintain healthy body composition among female shift workers.  "Poor sleep quality may affect dietary choices; individuals suffering from sleep deprivation show a greater tendency to choose food or drink that are high in fat and sugar than those with normal sleep," they say.  They also referred to another study that showed people who sleep fewer than six hours a day drank significantly more sugary beverages than those sleeping seven to eight hours.
Read more: Wen-Pei Chang, et al Influence of sleep-wake cycle on body mass index in female shift-working nurses with sleep quality as mediating variable. [Abstract - but pdf of full article can be downloaded from this page] Industrial Health, online first October 2019, doi: 10.2486/indhealth.2019-0066. Source: OHS Alert

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