Risk of Breast Cancer Is Lower in Early Risers


Jul 17, 2019


Image Credit: Manrepeller

We’ve heard a lot about morning people being happier, successful and healthier than evening people. Now, it turns out, women who wake up early are at a lower risk of breast cancer than those who stay up at night, according to a statement by Boston Medical Journal (BMJ), a weekly peer-reviewed medical journal.

“It is important to note that these data do not suggest in any way that modifying sleep habits could eventually lead to a decrease in the risk of breast cancer,” Luca Magnani, senior research fellow in the Department of Surgery & Cancer at Imperial College London told the Science Media Centre, told CNN. “What they suggest is that it appears that the risk of breast cancer is associated with a genetic (thus not modifiable) trait that is in itself associated with a ‘morning’ or ‘night’ preference….”

“One in seven women will develop breast cancer at some stage in their lives. Previous studies have shown a link between night shift work and risk of breast cancer, thought to be due to disrupted sleep patterns, light exposure at night, and other lifestyle factors. But there has been much less research into the potential effects of sleep habits on breast cancer risk,” the BMJ statement reads.

Therefore, Magnani and an international research team set out to examine whether certain sleep traits could have a direct (causal) effect on the risk of developing breast cancer. Already well-researched contributing factors include alcohol consumption and being overweight.

Besides sleeping early or late, it was also found that sleeping more than the average recommended seven to eight hours per night could also increase the risk of breast cancer.

These conclusions were derived after researchers analyzed data from more than four lakh women, which included information about their sleeping patterns and their daily wake-up times. They found that 2 out of 100 women who said that they stayed up late at night developed breast cancer, as compared to half of those who described themselves as morning people.

Related on The Swaddle:

Breast Cancer: An Introduction

According to India Against Cancer, an institute under the Indian Council of Medical Research, breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in Indian women. In 2018, there were 1.6 lakh new cases and 87,090 deaths reported from breast cancer.

Dr. Dipender Gill, a Wellcome Trust clinical research fellow at Imperial College London, told CNN the new observation is “useful progress in the field.”

The study, however, doesn’t elaborate on how sleeping patterns can have an impact on breast cancer. Dr. Gill explained to CNN: “It may be that certain factors that affect sleep-related behaviors also affect breast cancer risk through a separate mechanism. There is still some way to go before we fully understand the implications of sleeping patterns on health.”


Written By Anubhuti Matta

Anubhuti Matta is an associate editor with The Swaddle. When not at work, she’s busy pursuing kathak, reading books on and by women in the Middle East or making dresses out of Indian prints.


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