Breast cancer is one of the most common cancer types witnessed in women. Its symptoms include a lump or breast thickening, and changes in the breast skin around the nipples. Genetics, and other lifestyle factors, such as alcohol intake, deficiency or excess of sleep, make cancer more likely to happen in women. Breast cancer arises in breast tissue when abnormal cells multiply in numbers, attacking the nearby healthy tissues. This cancer type, if not treated on time, can spread to other parts of the body. Although women are the major sufferer, men can also get breast cancer.
Night Shifts, A Major Reason
In 2007, the International Agency for Research on Cancer of World Health Organisation classified shift work involving "internal body clock" disruption as probably carcinogenic to humans. Most researches on breast cancer risk have focused on the adverse effects of working in night and exposure to light at night, and less towards the potential adverse effects of traits such as chronotype (morning or evening preference), duration of sleep, and insomnia. Genetic variants are strongly associated with chronotype, duration of sleep, and sleeplessness symptoms have recently been recognised mainly in humans.
A study published in BMJ, leading general medical journal of the United Kingdom found that the sleeping traits - waking up early could have a direct effect on Breast Cancer development. Also, it showed that sleeping for more than 7-8 hours at night could also trigger the development of breast cancer. This new study by the international team led by researchers from the University of Bristol in the UK examines the potential effects of sleeping habits on breast cancer risk.
The study was conducted on 5,03,317 women participants on UK Biobank data using Mendelian randomisation study model. They analysed genetic variants related to three sleeping traits:
- Morning or evening preference (chronotype)
- Duration of sleep
- Insomnia (Sleeplessness)
Results came out to be surprising as those waking up early had a lower risk of breast cancer than those waking up late. Very few evidence were seen for sleep duration and insomnia symptoms. This research provides strong evidence for a straight effect of chronotype on breast cancer risk and shows how sleep habits can make a significant difference in ascertaining the health of an individual. The study also provides insights into how maintaining a healthy lifestyle is easy for those waking up early, further decreasing the chances of getting affected with chronic diseases.
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