Morning People Have Lower Breast Cancer Risk

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A study from the University of Bristol in the UK reveals that morning people are less likely to develop breast cancer.

But why?

Adequate sleep has been repeatedly underscored as crucial to our wellbeing, and this new research adds to a growing body of evidence that, yes, enough sleep is essential to our health — but when we sleep also matters.

It has to do with your circadian rhythm, and the fact that not everyone naturally follows that rhythm.

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The study was presented at the NCRI Cancer Conference in Glasgow, and it was published on the researchers’ website bioRxiv (though it has not gone through scientific peer review yet).

Researchers pinpointed 341 areas of DNA that are linked to whether someone is a night owl or an early bird. Early birds — or “larks” as they’re termed in this study — wake early, reach their peak energy levels earlier in the day, and are tired earlier at night. Night owls –“owls” in this study — struggle with getting up in the morning, reach their peak productivity later in the day, and like to get to sleep later.

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Studying 420,000 women involved in pre-existing projects — either the UK Biobank project or the Breast Cancer Association Consortium study — the researchers discovered that women who were genetically predisposed to be “owls” had increased risk of breast cancer.

However, they looked at only an 8-year span of time in each woman’s life. During that time, 2 out of 100 owls developed breast cancer while 1 out of 100 larks did.

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The World Health Organization has already stated that a disruption in your circadian rhythm due to late-shift work is likely linked to an increase in cancer risk. Other studies have shown a link between mental health and sleep preferences.

While more research needs to be done, the study’s authors say they’ve found “consistent evidence” that our natural body clocks are linked to cancer risk. However, more research needs to be done to confirm the results and delve deeper into the “why” before any advice can be given.

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C. Dixon likes to read, sing, eat, drink, write, and other verbs. She enjoys cavorting around the country to visit loved ones and experience new places, but especially likes to be at home with her husband, son, and dog.
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