Morning people less likely to develop breast cancer

Lina Al Maeena with Jeddah United

Their findings suggest that "larks" - women who function better at the beginning of the day than the end - have a lower risk of developing breast cancer than those who love to lie-in.

Dr Rebecca Richmond, who led the study, said: "Using genetic variants associated with people's preference for morning or evening, sleep duration and insomnia, which had previously been identified by three recent UK Biobank genome-wide association studies, we investigated whether these sleep traits have a causal contribution to the risk of developing 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.

According to the statement, there are about 1.38 million new cases and 458,000 deaths from breast cancer each year, "as breast cancer is by far the most common cancer in women worldwide, both in the developed and developing countries".

The research team, who presented their findings at the National Cancer Research Institute conference in Glasgow, analysed women's genes and asked them whether they were a morning or an evening person. Still more studies must be done to understand the connection between waking up earlier or later in the day and breast cancer diagnosis.

Cliona Clare Kirwan, from the University of Manchester, a member of the NCRI Breast Clinical Studies Group who did not take part in the research, said: "These are interesting findings that provide further evidence of how our body clock and our natural sleep preference is implicated in the onset of breast cancer".

They looked at 341 snippets of DNA (the instructions for the human body) that control whether we are likely to be a lark or an owl.

"For example, the genetic determinants of sleep may also affect other neuronal mechanisms that affect breast cancer risk independently of sleep patterns".

The study used a genetic method known as Mendelian randomization.

"We know that sleep is important generally for health", said Richmond.

And this is involved in breast cancer?

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

Being a morning person is partly down to genetics, so this lowered risk does make some sense.

Similar studies have revealed a role for sleep preferences and mental health, including schizophrenia risk.

She is a research fellow in the Cancer Research U.K. Integrative Cancer Epidemiology Program at the University of Bristol.

However, cancer experts say modifying your sleep patterns probably won't have a significant impact on your cancer risk.

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