Research says being a “Morning person” makes you at slightly lower risk of developing breast cancer.
Being a morning person lowers your risk of breast cancer
Being a morning person has been associated with a lower risk of developing breast cancer than being an evening person finds a study published by The BMJ.
One in seven women will develop breast cancer at some stage in their lives. Previous studies have shown a link between night shift work and risk of breast cancer, thought to be due to disrupted sleep patterns, light exposure at night, and other lifestyle factors. But there has been much less research into the potential effects of sleep habits on breast cancer risk.
For the study researchers used a technique called Mendelian randomisation, and analysed genetic variants associated with three particular sleep traits – morning or evening preference (chronotype), sleep duration, and insomnia – for 180,216 women in the UK Biobank study and 228,951 women in the Breast Cancer Association Consortium (BCAC) study.
In observational analysis of UK Biobank data, morning preference was associated with a slightly lower risk of breast cancer (one less woman per 100) than evening preference.
However, the authors stress that this represents differences at the extreme ends of the scale, and that the extent of effect is likely to be smaller than that of other known risk factors for breast cancer, such as BMI and alcohol intake.
The researchers say their findings “provide strong evidence for a causal effect of chronotype on breast cancer risk.”
Further work to uncover possible reasons for the associations between sleep disruption and breast cancer is required, they add. Nonetheless, these findings “have potential implications for influencing sleep habits of the general population in order to improve health.”
Professor Eva Schernhammer from the University of Vienna says these findings “identify a need for future research exploring how the stresses on our biological clock can be reduced.”
Know the facts!
All women are at risk of developing breast cancer. However, while some of the factors associated with breast cancer can’t be changed, the good news is that nearly a quarter of all breast cancers are potentially preventable.
Cancer Australia says, “While we can’t change growing older or our family history, which are the most important risk factors for breast cancer, we can make positive changes to reduce our risk.”
“The evidence is convincing that drinking alcohol increases the risk of breast cancer. Drinking just one standard glass of alcohol daily is shown to increase risk by 7% and the risk increases the more alcohol that is consumed.”
“For postmenopausal women, being overweight or obese is associated with an increased risk of breast cancer. For each 5kg weight gain, the risk of postmenopausal breast cancer increases by about 6%.”
“Active women of all ages are at a reduced risk of breast cancer compared to women who do not exercise. The more active you are, the greater the benefits,” said Dr Zorbas.
“Research is shedding more light on certain risk factors. For example, many studies now show tobacco smoking may be associated with an increased risk of breast cancer, where previously findings were inconclusive.”
“The latest science also suggests that consuming dairy, calcium in food, and vegetables may reduce the risk of breast cancer.”
Manage your risk
There are things you can do to manage your risk of developing breast cancer.
Alcohol – drinking alcohol increases your risk of breast cancer. The more you drink, the greater the increase in risk. If you do drink alcohol, limit your alcohol intake to 1 standard drink a day.
Bodyweight – keeping to a healthy weight range reduces the risk of breast cancer. Aim to keep to a healthy body weight that is within a Body Mass Index (BMI) range of 18.5 to 25 kg/m2, and have a waist circumference of below 80 cm (31.5 in).
Physical activity – active women of all ages are at reduced risk of breast cancer compared to women who do not exercise. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity every day. The more exercise you do, the bigger the benefits.
Menopausal hormone therapy (MHT)/hormone replacement therapy (HRT) – using menopausal hormone therapy (MHT) that contains both an oestrogen and a progestogen is associated with an increased risk of breast cancer, with the risk increasing the longer you take it. If you are taking MHT, review your needs regularly with your doctor.
Breastfeeding – breastfeeding can reduce the risk of breast cancer – and the longer the duration of breastfeeding, the greater the benefits.
Screen! Screen! Screen!
If you are aged 50-74, get your free breast screen done every two years. BreastScreen Australia offers free breast screening for women without symptoms aged 50-74, when screening has the greatest potential to prevent deaths from breast cancer.
Women aged 40-49 and 75 years and older who have no breast cancer symptoms or signs are also eligible for free screening mammograms.
For more details contact BreastScreen on 13 20 50 or visit www.cancerscreening.gov.au.
Estimated number of new cases of breast cancer diagnosed in 2019 is 19,535 people.
That includes 164 males and 19,371 females.
In 2019, it is estimated that the risk of an individual being diagnosed with breast cancer by their 85th birthday will be 1 in 7 (1 in 675 males and 1 in 7 females).
In 2019, it is estimated that it will remain the fourth most common cause of death from cancer and the second most common cause of death from cancer among females.
In 2016, there were 3,004 deaths from breast cancer in Australia (28 males and 2,976 females).
In 2019, it is estimated that this will increase to 3,090 deaths (32 males and 3,058 females). In 2019, it is estimated that the risk of an individual dying from breast cancer by their 85th birthday will be 1 in 82 (1 in 3,455 males and 1 in 43 females).
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