What the timing of your dinner can predict about your risk of cancer.
Certain routines are less healthy to abide by than others. Drink coffee too late, and you’ll have trouble getting to bed. Stay up too late, and you’re more likely to develop health complications down the road. On the contrary, you might have a better time finishing that latest biggest creative project if you don’t stay awake till the wee hours of the night.
And now, it might be time to start scheduling an earlier dinner if you want to live longer and healthier. A new study published today in the International Journal of Cancer suggests that the later you eat dinner, the more likely you are to develop breast and prostate cancer. That’s quite a staggering claim, especially when you consider that breast cancer is the most common type of cancer, and that prostate cancer afflicts about one in every nine men.
The new study, run by a large group of researchers in Spain, surveyed 621 individuals with prostate cancer and 1,205 individuals with breast cancer (plus 872 and 1,321 healthy males and females, respectively), collecting data relating to preferred times for dinner and sleep.
After adjusting for factors such as family of cancer, socioeconomic status, and environmental carcinogenic influencers, the research team found that individuals who eat dinner before 9:00 p.m. or wait at least two hours after finishing dinner before going to bed have about a 26 percent lower risk of developing prostate cancer and a 16 percent lower risk for breast cancer, versus those who eat after 10:00 p.m. or go to bed soon after finishing their last meal of the day.
How exactly do we get to a study like this? The genesis of such an investigation is perhaps not as unusual as you might think. According to Manolis Kogevinas, a research professor at the Barcelona Institute for Global Health and the lead investigator of the new paper, the impetus for this investigation is essentially a lack of current data.
“Breast and prostate cancer are the two cancers most closely related to night shift work and circadian disruption,” says Kogevinas. Disturbances in circadian rhythms, the biological processes that regulate sleep, energy levels, hormones and body temperatures over the 24-hour day, are already known to cause problems in the immune system, which can leave people more susceptible to tumor development. Kogevinas says light is the most important factor affecting circadian rhythms, followed by diet.
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