Circadian rhythms, otherwise known as the body's 24 hour sleep / wake up cycle, determine when you are sleepy and when it's time to wake up in the morning. In addition to your sleep, your circadian rhythm may have a number of significant effects on your health. According to a new study by researchers at the University of Bristol, the risk of breast cancer for women wakes up early in comparison to their night owls. While the unpublished study is still awaiting peer review, the findings indicate that one in 100 women said they developed breast cancer tomorrow, while two out of every hundred women who described themselves later developed the disease, according to CNN.
CNN reports that for this study, sleep charts were reported to be preferences of over 180 women of European descent in Britain. Cancer risks associated with sleepplanes have been proposed through previous research, and British researchers set up to expand these results with the current study. While study participants who reported themselves as early riders showed lower breast cancer, the reasons for this are still not clear, according to the BBC. Lead study writer, Dr Rebecca Richmond, a researcher at the Cancer Research UK Integrative Cancer Epidemiology Program at the University of Bristol, presented these findings at the NCRI Cancer Conference in Glasgow on Tuesday, according to CNN.
Each BBC has a body clock that affects when you sleep, your mood and perhaps your sensitivity to certain diseases. Morning people tend to have energy bumps earlier in the day and get tired of earlier in the evening. People who like to go to bed tend to be most productive later in the evening and feel sleepier in the morning than early riders do. When circadian rhythms are disturbed, mood and health diseases can occur. UK researchers also conducted a genetic analysis of participants in the study to better understand what the link between sleep patterns and risk of breast cancer may be, according to CNN.
"We know sleep is important in general for health," told Richmond for CNN. "These results have potential political implications for affecting sleep habits in the general population to improve health and reduce the risk of breast cancer among women."
But while a link seems to exist between the risk of breast cancer and sleep patterns, the statistical model used in this study does not necessarily mean causal relationship, Dipender Gill, a clinical research education colleague at Imperial College London, told CNN. "For example, the genetic determinants of sleep can also affect other … mechanisms that affect the risk of breast cancer regardless of sleep patterns," said Gill. So while sleep patterns can be associated at risk of breast cancer, they do not necessarily cause it, according to Gill – there may be other genetic and health factors that play.
"Sleep is probably an important risk factor for breast cancer," told Richmond for CNN. But other health factors, such as excessive alcohol consumption, are more worrying, she said. She also said that the night owls do not worry too much about the findings of the study because there are many factors, some of which are genetic, which contribute to the risk of breast cancer.
When it comes to getting enough sleep and reducing the risk of diseases like breast cancer, you go to bed earlier when you may be able to help. And while you sleep interruption, or not getting enough sleep regularly, can increase your chances of health problems like some cancers, requires more research to fully understand how circadian rhythm affects the risk of breast cancer.