Study Reveals the Time of Day (or Night) You Eat Connects to Cancer Risks

We all know what we put into our body heavily impacts our physical, mental, and emotional health. And we certainly know by now that what we eat can even determine the risk we have of developing certain types of cancer.


Now, how important is when you eat in either lowering or raising our cancer risks? That’s an interesting angle, isn’t it?


New research has found that meal timing has a significant impact on your risks of developing cancer. Specifically, people who eat late at night have a 20 to 25 percent higher risk of cancer, to be exact. One five-year study of a little more than 2,000 people in Spain found that men and women who ate less than two hours before going to bed for the night had a significantly higher risk of breast and prostate cancer. Eating their last meal two hours before bedtime lowered their risks by as much as 25 percent, while more specifically, people who ate their last meal before 9 pm, regardless of bedtime, had a 20 percent lower risk than those who ate after 10.


The study included 621 cases of prostate and 1,205 of breast cancer and 872 male and 1,321 female population controls who had never worked night shifts. Their eating habits from meal timing to overall nutrition were surveyed as well as their sleep patterns and even chronotype. “The effect of longer supper‐sleep interval was more pronounced among subjects adhering to cancer prevention recommendations (OR both cancers= 0.65, 0.44–0.97) and in morning types (OR both cancers = 0.66, 0.49–0.90),” the report reads. “Adherence to diurnal eating patterns and specifically a long interval between last meal and sleep are associated with a lower cancer risk, stressing the importance of evaluating timing in studies on diet and cancer.”


The study concludes that our long-term disruption of endogenous circadian rhythms, in particular, due to exposure to light at night, may be associated with a wide range of common diseases like cancer, cardiovascular diseases, obesity, and type 2 diabetes. “From an evolutionary perspective, intermittent eating patterns with periods of fasting were the norm in humans and food was primarily consumed during daylight with long hours of overnight fasting,” the report went on to explain, reminding us that going to bed on an empty stomach is something our body is actually designed for. In fact, our bodies were actually designed to sustain significantly longer periods of time without food and eating multiple times throughout the day is actually a luxury none of our evolutionary ancestors enjoyed.


“Acute circadian misalignment of the sleep/wake and feeding cycle experimentally induced in healthy, nonshift workers, was associated with disrupted glucose, insulin, leptin and cortisol rhythms in as few as three days,” the author’s wrote.


So what’s the conclusion? Ditch those late dinners over the long term and settle into a sustainable eating pattern that calls for earlier dinners. Sure, it might be tough to avoid the late night snacks at first but it’s certainly worth that 25 percent edge.

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