Led by Dr Rebecca Richmond at the University of Bristol, UK, along with the University of Manchester, the University of Exeter, and U.S. and Norwegian researchers, the large-scale study looked at data from taken from 409,166 women to investigate how a person's preference for mornings or evenings as well as their sleep habits may contribute to the development of breast cancer.
"The team used a method called "'Mendelian randomization", which uses genetic variants linked to potential risk factors (in this case, circadian rhythm) to determine whether or not there is a causal relationship between the risk factor and a particular disease (in this case, breast cancer).
It said in a statement that the breast cancer awareness week was observed around the world in the month of October, as an annual worldwide campaign organised by major breast cancer charities to increase awareness of the disease and to raise funds for research into its cause, prevention, diagnosis, treatment and cure.
In 2018, it is estimated that 627,000 women passed away from breast cancer, that is approximately 15% of all cancer deaths among women.
"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 Cliona Clare Kirwan, a member of the NCRI Breast Clinical Studies Group. The World Health Organization already says disruption to people's body clocks because of shift work is probably linked to cancer risk.
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Careem, one of the region's leading technology organisations, launched a breast cancer awareness campaign in partnership with the Qatar Cancer Society (QCS) last October.
She is a research fellow in the Cancer Research U.K. Integrative Cancer Epidemiology Program at the University of Bristol.
So will a good night's sleep stop me getting cancer?
Their analysis revealed that women with a preference for mornings reduced the risk of breast cancer by 40%, compared with being an evening type. "Another limitation is that sleep timing preference (chronotype) is self-reported, and the investigation did not specifically recruit individuals with different sleep patterns, such as night-shift workers", Burgess wrote in the comments of the study. Men and women of all ages are encouraged to check themselves for breast cancer as it can affect anyone.
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.