Europeans are cool and all with their late hour dinners, but you may want to start looking into early bird specials if you want to live longer. According to a new study published in the International Journal of Cancer, the later you eat dinner (specifically after 9 p.m.), the more likely you are to develop breast and prostate cancer. This is quite significant considering that breast cancer is the No.1 cancer women develop and one in every nine men have prostate cancer.
Speaking of those Europeans, the study was conducted in Spain and followed 621 people with prostate cancer and 1,205 with breast cancer and then a control group of 872 men and 1,321 women who didn’t have cancer were also watched.
The researchers looked at the subjects’ sleep patterns, the timing of their dinner, physical activity and dietary habits before they developed cancer (if they were part of that group.) After adjusting for factors including family history of cancer, socioeconomic status and possible environmental carcinogenic impact, it was found that the subjects who ate before 9 p.m. or ate and then waited at least two hours before sleeping had a 26% lower risk of developing prostate cancer and a 16% lower risk for breast cancer versus the subjects that usually ate after 10:00 p.m. or went to bed shortly after their last meal of the day.
Night shift workers are at risk
The researchers focused on those two cancers in particular, not only because of their prevalence but also because they are the two cancers mostly associated with night shift work. Working at night can make some people’s immune systems much more susceptible to disease as their circadian rhythms are disturbed because their exposure to light is thrown off and their diet tends to be out of sync. Eating at night and sleeping for most of the day can alter insulin and immune function.
It should be noted that the researchers did not conclude that eating later causes cancer, but this does show a high correlation. However, this was only conducted on Spanish people and eating times clearly differ from country to country and every human being has their own unique optimal time to eat and sleep.