Research reported in the national press this month has suggested that eating dinner before 9pm can reduce people’s risk of breast and prostate cancer by a fifth.
The study, by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health, claims that eating late at night causes inflammation in the body and alters blood sugar levels – both of which are linked to cancer.
The findings point to changes in modern lifestyle habits which have a negative effect on the body’s natural function. Researchers asked a sample of 4,000 people, 1,800 of which had breast or prostate cancer, about their diet and lifestyle habits. The results concluded that those eating before 9pm, compared to after 10pm, were 25% less likely to have prostate cancer and 15% less likely to have breast cancer.
So, can the time at which you eat your meals really have an impact on your likelihood to develop breast cancer?
Prevent Breast Cancer’s Dr Michelle Harvie is the UK’s first dietitian researching the link between diet, lifestyle and breast cancer. She shares her thoughts on this latest research: “This study adds to a body of literature that suggests that late night eating is not optimal for human health. However, whilst this work is interesting, it is not conclusive.
“Breast cancer patients were asked to remember their eating habits at the age of 40 years – an average of 18 years before diagnosis. The differences seem quite marked for just a small shift in timings. Other factors, such as alcohol intake or the type of diet consumed, are not considered and yet we know that these have a large impact on risk.
“Repeated research has shown that maintaining a healthy weight and diet, taking regular exercise and limiting alcohol intake will have a positive impact on a person’s risk of developing breast cancer. It will be interesting to see what conclusions subsequent studies make regarding the timing of meals in addition to these factors.”
With 25% of breast cancer cases preventable through simple lifestyle changes such as losing weight and drinking less alcohol, Prevent Breast Cancer is dedicated to helping at-risk women make positive changes to their lives.
Our extensive research into this area suggests that The 2-Day Diet for weight loss is an effective long-term solution that people are much more likely to maintain. The diet advocates a low carbohydrate, low calorie diet two days per week and five days of a healthy Mediterranean diet.
For those not specifically looking to lose weight, we recommend avoiding processed, high sugar foods and excess alcohol, and eating a diet rich in wholegrains, fruit and vegetables, lean protein foods, nuts and oils.
You can read more about Dr Michelle Harvie’s leading work in this area here.