Circadian rhythms, also referred to as your body's 24-hour sleep / wake cycle, determine when you feel tired and when you need to wake up in the morning. However, apart from your sleep, your circadian rhythm can have a number of far-reaching effects on your health. According to a recent study by researchers at the University of Bristol, the risk of breast cancer for women getting up early is lower than that of their night owls. While the unpublished study is awaiting peer review, the results indicate that one in every 100 women who called themselves morning-sick had breast cancer, while two out of every hundred women who later called themselves risers developed the disease CNN.
CNN reports that sleep requests from more than 180 women of European descent in the UK have been reported in this study. Previous studies have suggested cancer risks associated with sleep plans, and British researchers intended to extend these findings with the current study. While study participants who reported themselves as early risers had lower breast cancer rates, the reasons for this, according to the BBC, are not yet completely clear. The author of the study, dr. Rebecca Richmond, a research fellow at the Cancer Research UK's Integrative Cancer Epidemiology Program at the University of Bristol, presented these findings at the NCRI Cancer Conference in Glasgow on Tuesday.
According to the BBC, everyone has a body clock that affects their sleep, mood, and even their susceptibility to certain diseases. Morning people tend to peak energy earlier in the day and get tired in the evening. People who like to go to bed late are most prolific in the late evening and feel sleepier in the morning than early risers. If circadian rhythms are disturbed, it can lead to mood and health disorders. British researchers also conducted a genetic analysis of study participants to better understand the link between sleep patterns and breast cancer risk, according to CNN.
"We know that sleep is generally important to health," Richmond told CNN. "These results have potential policy implications for influencing the sleep habits of the population to improve health and reduce the risk of breast cancer in women."
Although there seems to be a correlation between the risk of breast cancer and the pattern of sleep, the statistical model used in this study does not necessarily imply causality, said Dipender Gill, a clinical researcher at Imperial College London, to CNN. "For example, the genetic determinants of sleep can affect other … mechanisms that affect breast cancer risk regardless of sleep patterns," Gill said. So while sleep patterns might be associated According to Gill, breast cancer risk does not necessarily cause them – other genetic and health factors may play a role.
"Sleep is probably a major risk factor for breast cancer," Richmond told CNN. However, other health factors, such as excessive alcohol consumption, are worrying, she said. She further explained that night owls should not worry too much about the study's findings, as many factors, some of which are genetic, contribute to breast cancer risk.
When it comes to getting enough sleep and reducing the risk of breast cancer, it may be helpful to go to bed earlier. And during sleep disorderor if you do not get enough sleep on a regular basis, you can increase the likelihood of health problems (such as cancer). More research is needed to fully understand how the circadian rhythm affects breast cancer risk.