Early rising women at lower risk of breast cancer

Lina Al Maeena with Jeddah United

Lina Al Maeena with Jeddah United

Women who begin their day early are likely to have a lower of risk breast cancer, than late beginners, suggests a research.

The researchers from the University of Bristol in England looked at data from 180,215 women enrolled with the UK Biobank project, and 228,951 women who had been part of a genome-wide association study of breast cancer led by the global Breast Cancer Association Consortium and found that women who prefer mornings have a 40% to 48% reduced risk of developing that type of cancer.

The research, which is being presented at the NCRI Cancer Conference in Glasgow, also found that breast cancer risk increased by 20 per cent for every hour a women slept beyond the recommended amount of 7 to 8 hours a night.

Led by Dr Rebecca Richmond at the University of Bristol, UK, along with the University of Manchester, the University of Exeter, and United States and Norwegian researchers, the large-scale study looked at data from taken from 409,166 women to investigate how a person's preference for mornings or evenings as well as their sleep habits may contribute to the development of breast cancer.

"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", Richmond said. There was less evidence of an association with either insomnia or sleep duration on risk of breast cancer in this study.

"We also found some evidence for a causal effect of increased sleep duration and sleep fragmentation on breast cancer", she added.

Researchers also looked at results from nearly 229,000 women signed up to an worldwide genetic study carried out by the Breast Cancer Association Consortium.

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The consortium has the largest collection of genetic data on women with breast cancer obtained so far. They used a clever new way of analysing data - called Mendelian randomisation.

Being a morning person is partly down to genetics, so this lowered risk does make some sense. Around 4% of United States cancer deaths were linked to drinking alcohol and the Breast Cancer Now charity warns that any alcohol intake increases the risk of breast cancer.

So will a good night's sleep stop me getting cancer?

Dr Rebecca Richmond, one of the researchers from the University of Bristol, told the BBC: "The findings are potentially very important because sleep is ubiquitous and easily modified".

She said policy-makers and employers should take note of the research. The World Health Organization already says disruption to people's body clocks because of shift work is probably linked to cancer risk.

Age and family history are some of the main risk factors for breast cancer.

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