In a recent study, researchers find that having an early supper or finishing dinner at least two hours before going to bed are linked to a lower risk of breast and prostate cancer.
Specifically, people who take their evening meal before 9 pm or wait at least two hours before going to sleep have 20% lower risk of those types of cancer compared to people who don’t do that.
The study was conducted by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal). It is the first to analyze the link between cancer risk and the timing of meals and sleep.
Previous studies of the link between food and cancer have focused on dietary patterns.
For example, the effects of eating red meat, fruit and vegetables and the associations between food intake and obesity.
However, little attention has been paid to the everyday act of eating: the timing of food intake and the activities people do before and after meals.
Recent studies have shown the importance of meal timing and the harms of eating late at night.
The new study aimed to assess whether meal timing could be associated with risk of breast and prostate cancer, two of the most common cancers worldwide.
Breast and prostate cancers are also among those most strongly linked to night-shift work, circadian disruption and alteration of biological rhythms.
In the study, the researchers analyzed data from 621 cases of prostate cancer and 1,205 cases of breast cancer, as well as 872 men and 1,321 women from primary health centers.
The participants, who represented various parts of Spain, were interviewed about their meal timing, sleep habits and chronotype and completed a questionnaire on their eating habits and adherence to cancer prevention recommendations.
SGlobal researcher Manolis Kogevinas, lead author of the study, suggests that the findings highlight the importance of assessing circadian rhythms in studies on diet and cancer.
If the findings are confirmed, they will have implications for cancer prevention recommendations, which currently do not take meal timing into account.
The impact could be especially important in cultures such as those of southern Europe, where people have supper late.
The study is published in the International Journal of Cancer.
Copyright © 2018 Knowridge Science Report. All rights reserved.
Figure legend: This Knowridge.com image is for illustrative purposes only.