Breast cancer: Women who are early risers have lower risk

Lina Al Maeena with Jeddah United

Women who are "morning people" are less likely to develop breast cancer than those who are sharpest in the evening, a study suggests.

A study from the University of Bristol compared data on hundreds of thousands of data to find that morning people have a 40-48% lower risk of breast cancer.

The data also showed that women who slept longer than the recommended seven to eight hours a night had a 20 percent increased risk of breast cancer for each additional hour slept.

"Our findings are based on questions related to morning or evening preference rather than actually whether people get up earlier or later in the day", said Rebecca Richmond, of the University of Bristol.

"More work is needed to understand why sleep characteristics may be linked to breast cancer risk".

The findings were presented at the 2018 NCRI (National Cancer Research Institute) conference in Glasgow.

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.

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Cliona Kirwan, consultant breast surgeon and researcher at the University of Manchester, said: "The use of Mendelian randomisation in this study enables the researchers to examine the causal effect on breast cancer of different sleep patterns".

"The method of Mendelian randomisation applied in this research is particularly useful at identifying causal risk factors for disease since the genetic variants identified in relation to the sleep traits are not likely to be influenced by any external or environmental factors, nor by the development of cancer, and can therefore be used to determine cause and effect relationships". Does the body clock affect hormone levels to alter cancer risk, or the immune system, or metabolism?

"We know already that night shift work is associated with worse mental and physical health".

"While these intriguing results highlight the need for further investigation, changing your sleeping habits is not as easily done as other proven risk-reducing choices, as they're often part and parcel with jobs, parenting, or other health conditions", Dr. Emma Pennery, clinical director at Breast Cancer Care, told The Independent. According to Cancer Research UK, around a quarter of cases might be preventable.

There is good news if you are a morning person.

Those that were found to have the genes of a morning person had a lower chance of getting breast cancer.

However, cancer experts say modifying your sleep patterns probably won't have a significant impact on your cancer risk.

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