FACT: breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Australia, with one in 8 women being diagnosed at some point in their lives. Which, if you look around you, is a truly staggering number.
The risk for the disease increases with age – with most cases diagnosed after the age of 50. A strong family history, inheriting a faulty gene, being overweight (and being female) also play a role here. But, according to new research, those who wake up early are less likely to fall victim.
A team at the University of Bristol analysed data from hundreds of thousands of people and found that morning people have a 40-48 per cent lower chance of developing breast cancer. In addition, they noted that women who slept longer than seven to eight hours had a 20 per cent increased risk per additional hour.
The researchers put this down to the body clock – also known as your circadian rhythm – which determines your sleep patterns. The caveat: they still haven’t determined why exactly it has such an impact on the development of cancer.
“We still need to get at what makes an evening person more at risk than a morning person… we need to unpick the relationship,” Dr Rebecca Richmond, one of the study’s researchers told the BBC.
“It may not be the case that changing your habits changes your risk of breast cancer; it may be more complex than that.”