Women who like to wake up earlier have almost half the risk of breast cancer as their night owl counterparts, according to a study presented by British scientists on Tuesday.
The scientists found that those with an in-built morning preference were 40% to 48% less at risk of breast cancer.
Results from 228,951 women enrolled in an global genetic study conducted by the Breast Cancer Association Consortium (BCAC) were also included in the analysis.
The data showed that women who were morning types, also known as "larks, ' had a reduced risk of breast cancer compared with those who were evening types, or 'owls".
Now, there's evidence to suggest that the gene mutation may be linked to an increase risk of breast cancer, with night owls more at risk than larks.
"We would like to do further work to investigate the mechanisms underpinning these results, as 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", she said.
"However, the findings of a protective effect of morning preference on breast cancer risk in our study are consistent with previous research...", Richmond noted.
"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", said breast surgeon Cliona Kirwan. These genetic markers can show everything from "chronotype" (what times a person is most active) to risk of insomnia and the amount of sleep needed.
Researchers from the University of Bristol have analysed the link between sleeping patterns and breast cancer in women. Researchers then mapped the genetic variations between the earlier risers and the night owls and compared it with that to the risk of developing cancer.
Results from 228,951 women enrolled in an worldwide genetic study conducted by the Breast Cancer Association Consortium (BCAC) were also included in the analysis. The World Health Organization already says disruption to people's body clocks because of shift work is probably linked to cancer risk.
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. According to Cancer Research UK, around a quarter of cases might be preventable.
"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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