Dining just before bedtime could raise risk of cancer

Feeling like a late-night snack? A new study from Spain might make change your mind.
By Rick Docksai | Dec 05, 2018
People who eat just before going to sleep at night could be more likely to get breast or prostate cancer, a new Spanish study concludes. Lead author Manolis Kogevinas, a cancer researcher at the Barcelona Institute for Global Health, said that the heightened cancer risk may be due to disruptions to the body's natural sleep cycles from late-night eating.

Kogevinas and colleagues' study, which the International Journal of Cancer published Tuesday, tracked 621 people who had prostate cancer and 1,205 who had breast cancer, along with two "control groups"--872 men and 1,372 women--neither of whom had any cancers. The subjects all came from health centers throughout Spain.

Kogevinas and fellow researchers interviewed all participants about their sleeping and eating habits and adjusted for complicating factors such as family histories of cancer or cancer-causing environmental influences. They found that the prostate and breast cancer incidences were, respectively, 26% and 16% lower among the participants who eat their dinner at least two hours or more before going to bed, compared to people who went to bed shortly after eating.

Kogevinas suggested that eating shortly before bed disrupts the body's circadian rhythms and causes reduced sleep quality, which over time results in poorer overall health and greater susceptibility to cancer. He noted that previous studies found higher breast and prostate cancer risks among night-shift workers, also.

"What we know from experimental studies is that we are conditioned to function in different parts of the day. Wenot only humans but all living organismshave developed throughout time functioning differently in day and night," he said.

Kogevinas added that the findings could be especially significant to populations in southern Europe, "where people have supper late."

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