Published: Thu, November 08, 2018
Medical | By Vicki Mclaughlin

Early risers less likely to get breast cancer

Early risers less likely to get breast cancer

The researchers who compared data on hundreds of thousands of women found that those with an in-built morning preference were 40 per cent to 48 per cent less at risk of breast cancer.

Analysis showed women who slept longer than seven to eight hours a night - the amount recommended - increased their chances of being diagnosed with the disease by 20% per additional hour spent sleeping.

Led by Dr Rebecca Richmond at the University of Bristol, UK, along with the University of Manchester, the University of Exeter, and United States and Norwegian researchers, the large-scale study looked at data from taken from 409,166 women to investigate how a person's preference for mornings or evenings as well as their sleep habits may contribute to the development of breast cancer.

In other words, it is at present unknown whether it is your genetic body clock itself, or living out of sync with it - for instance, forcing yourself to get up early for work if you are a lark - which affects your breast cancer risk.

"However, the findings of a protective effect of morning preference on breast cancer risk in our study are consistent with previous research highlighting a role for night shift work and exposure to "light-at-night" as risk factors for breast cancer", she said.

As reported by Sarah Knapton from the Telegraph, the research was funded by Cancer Research UK and the Medical Research Council and presented at the NCRI Cancer Conference in Glasgow on 5 November.

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Around one in seven women in the United Kingdom will develop breast cancer during their lifetime, and well-known risk factors include smoking, alcohol, age and family history. "In such a scenario, sleep patterns may be associated with risk of breast cancer, but not directly cause it".

"The authors do not show any biological mechanism by which sleep timing preference could influence breast cancer risk".

"The statistical method used in this study, called Mendelian randomization, does not always allow causality to be inferred", said Dipender Gill, clinical research training fellow at Imperial College London.

That's according to European researchers looking at International Genetic Data. In each case, the risk of cancer appears to be increased by the body being out of kilter with the natural world.

"We know already that night shift work is associated with worse mental and physical health". "I wouldn't support that women should get up earlier to reduce risk of breast cancer". "This study provides further evidence to suggest disrupted sleep patterns may have a role in cancer development", she said.

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