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BEDTIME CANCER RISK Women ‘could halve their risk of breast cancer by going to bed early’

Research found that women who are early risers were 40 to 48 per cent less likely to develop the disease compared to those who stay up late and lie-in. WOMEN could almost halve their risk of breast cancer by going to bed early and waking up at the crack of dawn, a study suggests.

Researchers compared so-called “larks”, who function best in the morning, with “night owls”, who feel more alert in the evening.

Those with a preference for rising early were 40% to 48% less likely to develop the disease than those who would rather stay up late and lie-in.

Women who slept longer than the recommended seven to eight hours a night also faced a 20% higher risk for each additional hour of kip.

The University of Bristol scientists analysed the genetic data and sleep preferences of 409,166 women, some of which had breast cancer.

They established a link between an in-built preference for early mornings or late nights and breast cancer risk.

Study leader Dr Rebecca Richmond said: “These findings have potential policy implications for influencing sleep habits of the general population in order to improve health and reduce risk of breast cancer among women.

“The estimates obtained are based on questions related to morning or evening preference rather than actually whether people get up earlier or later in the day.

“In other words, it may not be the case that changing your habits changes your risk of breast cancer – it may be more complex than that.

“However, the findings of a protective effect of morning preference on breast cancer risk in our study are consistent with previous research highlighting a role for night shift work and exposure to ‘light-at-night’ as risk factors for breast cancer.”

Dr Stephen Burgess, from the University of Cambridge, said: “It is increasingly clear that healthful sleep patterns are an important component of a healthful lifestyle.”

Ms Cliona Kirwan, from the National Cancer Research Institute, 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.

“We know already that night shift work is associated with worse mental and physical health.

“This study provides further evidence to suggest disrupted sleep patterns may have a role in cancer development.”

Source:, by Shaun Wooller

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