Breast cancer is so common, chances are, you know multiple people who have been affected by the condition. In fact, according to the American Cancer Association, it is the most common type of cancer affecting American women, with 1 in 8 women developing the condition during their lifetime. But thanks to a new study, we now are aware of a small and simple change that could reduce our risk.
According to research conducted by National Cancer Research Institute and published in bioRxiv women who wake up early are less likely to get breast cancer. In fact, their risk is reduced by up to 48 percent.
For the study, researchers analyzed self-reported data from more than 180,000 women. What they found was that 1 out of every 100 women who considered themselves to be a "morning person" developed breast cancer, while those who considered themselves "evening people" developed breast cancer at double the rate (2 out of every 100).
Dr. Rebecca Richmond, a research fellow in the Cancer Research U.K. Integrative Cancer Epidemiology Programme and the MRC Integrative Epidemiology Unit at the University of Bristol, explained the basis for the study in a statement: "Using genetic variants associated with people’s preference for morning or evening, sleep duration and insomnia, which had previously been identified by three recent UK Biobank genome-wide association studies, we investigated whether these sleep traits have a causal contribution to the risk of developing breast cancer.”
And while Richmond noted that these findings have potential policy implications for influencing sleep habits of the general population that could in turn improve health and reduce risk of breast cancer among women, she and the rest of the team were quick to point out that many factors determine an individual's risk of developing breast cancer and that these numbers are not absolute.
"Sleep is likely to be an important risk factor for breast cancer, but it isn't as large as other well-established risk factors like BMI or alcohol," Richmond said.
As such, additional and more thorough research will be necessary, but this might be a good reason to stop pushing that snooze button and start your day early.