by Staff writer
It is time to watch what time you eat your last meal daily.
According to a new study published in The International Journal of Cancer, eating late at night is associated with multiple serious health conditions, including cancer.
Researchers at the Barcelona Institute for Global Health compared over 1,800 people with prostate and breast cancer to over 2,100 people without cancer.
These people were interviewed and provided questionnaires to understand multiple risk factors including physical activity level, sleep patterns, and dietary habits.
Information on their diet included the number of meals, how long they lasted, and when they ate.
The researchers found that the risk of developing cancer decreased when there was a long period of time between eating dinner and sleeping.
Men who report eating dinner at least two hours before going to sleep had a 26 percent decrease in prostate cancer compared to those eating immediately before bed.
Women with the same dining pattern had a 16 percent decrease in breast cancer.
The important relationship, the study shows, is between when people eat dinner and when they go to sleep and how that affects their risk of breast and prostate cancer.
These two types of cancer are more likely seen in people who eat just before bedtime, compared with those who leave at least two hours between dinner and going to sleep.
Our bodies have evolved on a circadian rhythm or “clock” that signals when to eat and when to sleep, and modern living has been altering it.
Daylight and diet are the two most important factors that could impact someone’s circadian rhythm.
People metabolize food differently depending on when they eat, and this affects health risks, according to Dr. Manolis Kogevinas, lead author of the study.
“The underlying idea is that we have evolved as humans to do some things during the day and some things during the night and we have changed that,” Kogevinas explained.
“We know that breast and prostate cancer are very common and the most related to shift work and sleep-disruption,” Dr. Kogevinas told ABC News.
“We know from experimental studies that timing of diet is important for health.”
Future work by the study authors will be aimed at further understanding this process.