Early risers less likely to develop breast cancer, new study reveals

Breast cancer awareness

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. A person's body clock, or circadian rhythm, could lower their risk for breast cancer a study has found.

Scientists also found a higher breast cancer risk in women who sleep longer than eight hours at night.

"So it may not be the case that changing your habits changes your risk of breast cancer - it may be more complex than that", she added.

"However, the findings of a protective effect of morning preference on breast cancer risk in our study are consistent with previous research...", Richmond noted. The findings, which were not peer-reviewed, were presented at the NCRI Cancer Conference in Glasgow, Scotland. Still more studies must be done to understand the connection between waking up earlier or later in the day and breast cancer diagnosis.

Their analysis revealed that women with a preference for mornings reduced the risk of breast cancer by 40%, compared with being an evening type.

Dr Emma Pennery, of the Breast Cancer Care charity, said: 'Changing your sleeping habits is not as easily done as other proven risk-reducing choices, as they're often part and parcel with jobs, parenting or other health conditions'.

The team speculated that this mismatch may have its own impact on cancer risk, but making that connection will require more extensive research.

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And this is involved in breast cancer?

But if you are a morning person, feel free to give yourself yet another pat on the back.

Dr Rebecca Richmond, one of the researchers from the University of Bristol, told the BBC: "The findings are potentially very important because sleep is ubiquitous and easily modified".

The study was funded by Cancer Research UK and the Medical Research Council.

"We know already that night shift work is associated with worse mental and physical health. Another limitation is that sleep timing preference (chronotype) is self-reported, and the investigation did not specifically recruit individuals with different sleep patterns, such as night-shift workers", Burgess wrote in the comments of the study.

There are theories around the causes of sleep's effect on cancer, she said, such as the idea that artificial light at night leads to hormonal disruption.

"In terms of the implications of the research, it supports existing evidence that sleep patterns influence cancer risk, but it remains unclear how individual preferences for early or late rising interact with actual sleep behaviours", Moorthie wrote in an email.

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