In a new study, researchers found early birds had a lower risk of breast cancer, compared to those who burned the midnight oil. They aren't sure why sleeping patterns might be linked to breast cancer.
Photo: Pixabay
Photo: Pixabay

Night owls more likely to develop breast cancer than early risers, study suggests

Are you a morning or night person? Your sleeping traits could increase your breast cancer risk, according to a new report. 

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Researchers from Medical University of Vienna in Austria recently conducted a study, published in the British Medical Journal, to explore the association between sleeping patterns and breast cancer risk.

To do so, they used data from the UK Biobank and Breast Cancer Association Consortium assessment to examine more than 400,000 women. In addition to recording the participants’ health records, they also asked the subjects to share whether they preferred waking up early or late.

After analyzing the results, they found those who said they like to get out of bed early had a lower risk of breast cancer, compared to those who stay up late. The team also said sleeping more than the average seven to eight hours nightly slightly upped breast cancer risk, too.

“It is important to note that these data do not suggest in any way that modifying sleep habits could eventually lead to a decrease in the risk of breast cancer,” Luca Magnani, senior research fellow at Imperial College London, told the Science Media Centre.

“What they suggest is that it appears that the risk of breast cancer is associated with a genetic (thus not modifiable) trait that is in itself associated with a ‘morning’ or ‘night’ preference -- what we call ‘larks’ and ‘owls,’” continued Magnani, who was not a part of the study. 

The assessment did not reveal why sleeping patterns are linked with breast cancer risk. However, this isn’t the first study to suggest night owls face more health issues.

In 2018, scientists from Northwestern Medicine and the United Kingdom’s University of Surrey found evening types have a 10% higher risk of dying than those who rise early. Want to learn more about the latest findings? Take a look here. 

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