Morning people 'less likely to develop breast cancer'

Grant Boone
November 8, 2018

They say women who tend to be "morning people" have about a 40 percent lower risk of breast cancer. The research also suggested that for women who slept longer than the recommended seven to eight hours per night, the risk of being diagnosed increased by 20 per cent per additional hour slept.

Lead scientist Dr Rebecca Richmond, from the University of Bristol, said: 'Using genetic variants associated with people's preference for morning or evening, sleep duration and insomnia, we investigated whether these sleep traits have a causal contribution to the risk of developing breast cancer.

However, Dr Richmond pointed out that the possible protective effect of being a morning person on breast cancer risk was in keeping with previous research showing that working night shifts and "light-at-night" exposure increased the risk of breast cancer.

Around one in seven women in the United Kingdom will develop breast cancer in their lifetime.

Attendees of the event included hundreds of family members, sports teams, friends, and even those valiant survivors affected by breast cancer; most wearing sashes to signify their defeat against the cause.

"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.

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

Richmond stressed that the 48% lower risk was identified among "extreme" cases, where people identified themselves as "definite" morning people out of the five categories they could chose from - definite morning, more morning than evening, neither, more evening than morning, definite evening. "We would like to use genetic data from large populations to further understand how disrupting the body's natural body clock can contribute to breast cancer risk", she said.

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

Dipender Gill, of Imperial College London, said: "Although informative and interesting, this study alone does not warrant any action other than further investigation - people should not be changing their sleep patterns based on the evidence presented here".

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

The findings have been published on researchers' website bioRxiv but have not yet gone through scientific peer review.

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