A recent study from the University of Bristol in England reveals that women who are ‘morning people’ are at a lower risk for breast cancer compared to those who sleep in late. While the researchers have not come up with a reason why this is so, they claim that these findings are important as they may affect all women. The findings were presented at the NCRI Cancer Conference in Glasgow.
Every individual has a body clock that governs their sleep and wake cycle. But not everyone’s clock tells the same time. There are some people who are early risers and are most active during the early part of the day but tend to get tired early in the evening. Then there are the evening or night owls who find it very difficult to get up in the morning, become productive much later in the day and prefer to go to sleep very late.
The researchers assess the risk of breast cancer to sleep and wake cycle by using a unique but intelligent method called the Mendelian randomization. They looked at 341 bits of DNA that modulate whether one is an early or later riser. They then utilized this knowledge to evaluate more than 180,000 women in the UK Biobank project and close to 230,000 women in the Breast Cancer Association consortium study.
Their analysis revealed that women who were genetically programmed to be early risers had a lower risk of breast cancer compared to those programmed to be late risers. Since these DNA snippets are determined at birth and not associated with any other causes of cancer, the researchers believe that the body clock is most likely involved in breast cancer.
Dr. Rebecca Richmond, one of the researchers from the University of Bristol said,”The findings are potentially very important because sleep is ubiquitous and easily modified. Previous research has looked at the impact of shift work, but this is showing there may be a risk factor for all women.”
Breast cancer is a very common disorder. One in seven women will develop cancer in their lifetime. Medical experts state that breast cancer is a complex disorder that has many risk factors including family history, obesity, and age. This study does not provide any clue as to why cancer occurs and no one knows whether the risk of breast cancer will be decreased if one starts to get up early.