Women chirpiest in the morning less likely to develop breast cancer

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Women who are naturally early risers were found to have lower risk of developing breast cancer than evening types in a new study.

They say women who tend to be "morning people" have about a 40 percent lower risk of breast cancer.

The research, which is being presented at the NCRI Cancer Conference in Glasgow, also found that breast cancer risk increased by 20 per cent for every hour a women slept beyond the recommended amount of 7 to 8 hours a night.

According to the statement, there are about 1.38 million new cases and 458,000 deaths from breast cancer each year, "as breast cancer is by far the most common cancer in women worldwide, both in the developed and developing countries". And obesity is set to become the leading preventable cause of breast cancer for women in the United Kingdom, according to a report from earlier this year.

"These are interesting findings that provide further evidence of how our body clock and our natural sleep preference is implicated in the onset of breast cancer".

"What we can be certain of is that all women - larks and owls - can reduce their risk of breast cancer by exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy weight and reducing their alcohol intake".

"Previous research has looked at the impact of shift work, but this is showing there may be a risk factor for all women".

"The statistical method used in this study, called Mendelian randomization, does not always allow causality to be inferred", said Dipender Gill, clinical research training fellow at Imperial College London. Around 4% of USA cancer deaths were linked to drinking alcohol and the Breast Cancer Now charity warns that any alcohol intake increases the risk of breast cancer.

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And this is involved in breast cancer?

The World Health Organization and its global partners have therefore dedicated October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month; a worldwide annual campaign involving thousands of organisations, to highlight the importance of breast cancer awareness, diagnosis and research.

Dan Damon has been speaking to one of the researchers, Professor Richard Martin - an expert in cancer epidemiology from the University of Bristol.

The study was funded by Cancer Research UK and the Medical Research Council.

Age and family history are some of the main risk factors for breast cancer.

"The authors do not show any biological mechanism by which sleep timing preference could influence breast cancer risk".

"We know that sleep is important generally for health", said Richmond.

Similar studies have revealed a role for sleep preferences and mental health, including schizophrenia risk.

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