A study has claimed that so-called "morning people" may have a reduced risk of getting breast cancer.
Scientists at the Univeristy of Bristol conducted research into the link between sleeping longer and breast cancer, and found that those women who generally woke up earlier had a huge 40-48% less risk of getting breast cancer – compared to those who slept in longer.
Researchers compiled data on over 100,000 women, asking them their preferences when it came to mornings and evenings. And they found that those who were more prone to be earlier risers or ‘larks’, had evidently less chance of getting the disease.
The study also found that women who slept longer than the recommended seven – eight hours actually also increased their risk of getting breast cancer, by around 20%, per additional hour spent asleep.
The reasons why there is a variation in breast cancer risk between early risers and evening people is not yet clear.
It’s thought that most of the population can be divided into two camps: night owls or early risers, or ‘larks’, as they have been nicknamed. Your natural body clock – or your circadian rhythm, as it is scientifically named – determines which category you fall in to.
Night owls tend to prefer getting up later, and find themselves more productive and energetic later on in the evening. Morning people however prefer getting up earlier, find themselves at peak energy early in the day, and are more tired in the evening.
University of Bristol scientist Dr Rebecca Richmond commented on the study saying, “Using genetic variants associated with people’s preference for morning or evening, sleep duration and insomnia … we investigated whether these sleep traits have a causal contribution to the risk of developing breast cancer.
She was also keen to state however that getting up earlier isn’t an easy way to reduce your breast cancer risk if you are a night owl. Dr Rebecca confessed that more work needs to be done to determine why early risers see such a benefit to their health.
“We would like to do further work to investigate the mechanisms underpinning these results, as the estimates obtained are based on questions related to morning or evening preference rather than actually whether people get up earlier or later in the day.”
“In other words, it may not be the case that changing your habits changes your risk of breast cancer; it may be more complex than that.”
So while it may be tempting to try and combat the risk by setting our alarm clock that little bit earlier – it seems more work is needed to determine whether or not that would be truly beneficial.