Early risers are less likely to develop breast cancer, claims new study

Alicia Farmer
November 8, 2018

Good news, morning larks - research shows that women who feel at their most awake in the hours before lunch are 40 percent less likely to develop breast cancer than late risers.

Dr Rebecca Richmond, who led the study, said: "Using genetic variants associated with people's preference for morning or evening, sleep duration and insomnia, which had previously been identified by three recent UK Biobank genome-wide association studies, we investigated whether these sleep traits have a causal contribution to the risk of developing breast cancer".

Dr Richard Berks, from Breast Cancer Now, said: "These intriguing results add to the growing body of evidence that there is some overlap between the genetics of when we'd prefer to sleep and our breast cancer risk, but more research is required to unravel the specifics of this relationship".

"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".

The data showed that women who were morning types, also known as "larks, ' had a reduced risk of breast cancer compared with those who were evening types, or 'owls".

Results from 228,951 women enrolled in an worldwide genetic study conducted by the Breast Cancer Association Consortium (BCAC) were also included in the analysis. The variation is due to technical differences, stated Richmond.

Scientists also found a higher breast cancer risk in women who sleep longer than eight hours at night.

'It may not be the case that changing your habits changes your risk of breast cancer. Also, the findings can not be applied across populations as the majority of women included were of European ancestry.

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

Dr Emma Pennery, of the Breast Cancer Care charity, said: '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'.

The researchers believe staying awake later may also have an impact on a woman's body clock, increasing the risk further.

Richmond's team conducted their genetic analysis in hope of digging into possible causes and consequences of this link.

The study was funded by Cancer Research UK and the Medical Research Council.

That's according to European researchers looking at International Genetic Data.

And those who are sharper in the evening may have had more disrupted sleep, which could affect the risk of cancer.

Careem, one of the region's leading technology organizations, launched a breast cancer awareness campaign in partnership with the Qatar Cancer Society last October.

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