Eating late can increase cancer risk by 25% – Study
A study has revealed that the time you consume food can affect your health. iStock
Our appetite, our body temperature, when we wake up, and our mood is all controlled by our circadian rhythm – our body’s internal clock, which manages our sleep and wake cycle. The body’s central clock is found in the brain and gets its signals mainly from the presence of light.
But did you know that late-night eating can disrupt your body’s internal clock? In fact, a study has revealed that the time you consume food can affect your health too.
Researchers from the Barcelona Institute for Global Health have found that those who regularly eat after 9 pm and don’t wait at least two hours before sleeping are 25% more likely to get cancer, compared to those who do.
Researchers are of the opinion that late-night eating can wreak havoc upon the body. This is because as night-time approaches, our metabolism should be to winding down – not speed up, which occurs after eating.
Metabolism is the chemical process that occurs as our body converts foods and drinks into energy that fuels body functions, Cleveland Clinic explains.
Sleep, hunger, and stress are underpinned by hormones, so when these processes are not aligned, the body’s circadian rhythms also risk disruption, experts say.
“Circadian disruption” is defined as any change in our sleep patterns, whether it is loss of sleep, difficulty falling asleep, or waking up during the sleep cycle.
Researchers observed 621 cases of prostate cancer and 1,205 cases of breast cancer – looking at 872 male and 1,321 female participants who had never worked a night shift.
Participants were interviewed regarding their meals, sleep, and chronotype (the times they normally went to sleep) and were asked to complete a food frequency questionnaire.
It was found that those who went to bed two or more hours after dinner had a 20% reduced risk of breast and prostate cancer, both combined and in each cancer individually.
However, when this was combined with eating late, their cancer risk increased by 25% in total.
Doctor Manolis Kogevinas, lead author of the study is reported to have said, “Our study concludes that adherence to diurnal (daily) eating patterns is associated with a lower risk of cancer. These findings stress the importance of evaluating timing in studies on diet and cancer.”
However, further research is required to understand the role the time of eating plays in determining the risk of cancer.
Having said that, disruption to the circadian rhythm alone can be a risk factor, states the WHO.
Additionally, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which categorises cancer risk factors on a scale from cancer-causing to not cancer-causing to humans affirms that night shift work alone is likely carcinogenic (cancer-causing) to humans, the Mirror informs.