Wednesday, 21 November, 2018

Early Birds May Have Lower Breast Cancer Risk

Reham Afandi Reham Afandi
Samantha Long | 08 November, 2018, 04:02

Women who are "morning people" are less likely to develop breast cancer than those who function better at night, a new study suggests. One in 100 women who considered themselves morning people developed breast cancer, compared with two in every 100 women who called themselves evening people.

Women who self-reported sleeping more than the average seven to eight hours per night were also found to have a slightly increased risk of breast cancer, of 20% per extra hour slept, according to the team's Mendelian randomization analysis.

"What we would like to look at next is the interplay between our innate preference, to being a morning person or an evening person, and our actual behavior", lead researcher Dr. Rebecca Richmond told British newspaper The Independent.

"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".

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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"We also found some evidence for a causal effect of increased sleep duration and sleep fragmentation on breast cancer, assessed using objective measurements of sleep obtained from movement monitors worn by participants", she added. These genetic markers can show everything from "chronotype" (what times a person is most active) to risk of insomnia and the amount of sleep needed.

The researchers believe their findings have implications for policy-makers and employers.

The research involving more than 400,000 women found "larks" have a breast cancer risk up to 48 per cent lower than "night owls". The World Health Organization already says disruption to people's body clocks because of shift work is probably linked to cancer risk. "For example, the genetic determinants of sleep may also affect other neuronal mechanisms that affect breast cancer risk independently of sleep patterns".

Careem, one of the region's leading technology organizations, launched a breast cancer awareness campaign in partnership with the Qatar Cancer Society last October. "This study provides further evidence to suggest disrupted sleep patterns may have a role in cancer development", she said.

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