You are what you eat, but do you know that the time you eat dinner also determines your likelihood of developing cancer?

Well, this was the hypothesis propounded in a new study published recently in the International Journal of Cancer. To figure this out, the study’s researchers surveyed the nightly habits of a group of 1,826 breast and prostate cancer patients (621 with prostate cancer; 1,205 with breast cancer), and compared them to 2,193 healthy individuals (872 male and 1,321 female patients without cancer) as their control group. These people were chosen randomly from several primary health care centers in Spain.

Participants who ate dinner at least 9 p.m. or at least two hours before going to bed had a 26% lower risk of developing prostate cancer, and a 16% lower risk of developing breast cancer. The implication here is:  Meal timing had a substantially important effect on participants’ cancer risk.

“The mechanisms are not clear,” said Dr. Manolis Kogevinas, a research professor at the Barcelona Institute for Global Health in Spain and lead author of the study. “What we know from experimental studies is that we are conditioned to function in different parts of the day,” added Kogevinas.

The researchers hypothesized that the occurrence could have something to do with the body’s circadian rhythm disruptions. The circadian rhythm is the body’s internal clock that rules metabolism, sleep cycles, hormone levels, and other aspects of our health. This rhythm can be thrown off by irregular sleep patterns, electromagnetic waves from your smartphone, and meal timing.

Previous research has shown that those who disrupt the natural sleep cycle, like those BPO workers manning the night shift, have an increased risk for cancer, especially breast and prostate cancer. So eating right before bedtime have also a negative effect on health and a higher risk of developing cancer.

Catherine Marinac, a research fellow at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute who was not involved in the study, said the results of the study are fairly similar with previous research – some hers – saying that eating in tune with the body’s natural clock may help reduce the risk of breast cancer recurrence in survivors.

“Population-based studies have found that people that eat late at night have higher rates of obesity and worse metabolic profiles,” Marinac said. Also, Marinac said that those with longer nightly fasting duration, and less late-night eating. This can lead to better blood sugar control and a lower risk of cancer recurrence.

Our take on this study is for all of us to continue with our prescribed medications, live a healthy lifestyle, maintain your ideal weight, exercise regularly, don’t text and drive, wear a seat belt. In short, enjoy life.

If you’d like to know more about how to take care of your health and prevent cancer, do visit our website at www.drfarrahcancercenter.com or www.treatingcancer.org.

Image by Artist / CC0 1.0