While most studies have focused on the nutritional density of food and it’s impact on cancer causing agents, this is one of the first to look at actual eating habits and cancer links. Conducted by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health, the aim of the study was to assess any possible link between meal-time and the two cancers, seeing as the incidence of both reportedly increases in shift workers, whose meals are typically eaten late at night.
According to the researchers, eating directly before sleep can create circadian disruption and alteration of biological rhythms, both risk factors for breast and prostate cancer.
"Our study concludes that adherence to diurnal [during the day] eating patterns is associated with a lower risk of cancer," explained lead author and ISGlobal researcher Manolis Kogevinas. The findings "highlight the importance of assessing circadian rhythms in studies on diet and cancer," he added.
The study took data from 621 prostate cancer patients, 1205 breast cancer patients, and 2193 control cases from across Spain, recording information surrounding their sleep habits and meal timings, with results showing eating before 9pm to significantly decrease the chances of cancer progression.
“[The results] will have implications for cancer prevention recommendations, which currently do not take meal timing into account," said Kogevinas. "The impact could be especially important in cultures such as those of southern Europe, where people have supper late."
One early bird special please!