ACCORDING to studies, eating before bed and late-night attacks of the munchies disrupt the body’s internal clock and could increase the risk of cancer.
Scientists have discovered that people who regularly eat their evening meal after 9 p.m., or less than two hours before going to sleep, had a 25 per cent raised risk of breast and prostate cancers. It is claimed that it could be a result of late dinners that force the body’s metabolism to speed up, at a time when it should be winding down for sleep. Several studies have looked at the effects of shift work among nurses and manual workers, as these occupations are at higher risk of prostate and breast cancers.
These types of cancers are closely linked to hormonal cues and are often treated with testosterone or oestrogen-blocking therapies. Hormones are chemical messengers that can make us sleepy, hungry and stressed and are therefore tightly linked to the body’s rhythms – the internal clock set by the day-night cycle.
Researchers found cancer patients were more likely to be late-night snackers, even after taking into account other health habits and dietary or sleep patterns.
Currently, international guidelines on the prevention of cancer don’t mention the potential impact of meal times on cancer, though the World Health Organisation does list shift working.