Feb 20, 2019 | Updated: 10:02 AM EST

Could Sleeping More While Fasting Overnight Prevent You From Developing Breast Cancer?

Apr 20, 2015 07:51 PM EDT

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Taking a systems biological approach to the study of cancers, many researchers have come to find that there is an intimate intermingling between cancerous tumors and the metabolic rate at which your body processes sugars. As exponentially, growing highly-metabolic cells, cancers require a lot of energy to regenerate, so could starving your cells more often help you avoid cancer altogether? Preliminary studies seem to suggest so.

In a new report published this week in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, researchers with the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine investigated a fascinating correlation between overnight fasting, sleep, and the appearance of breast cancer in women. And what they believe that they have found is an effective way of helping prevent breast cancer risk by eating less and sleeping more-an easy recipe for good health indeed.

"The dietary advice for cancer prevention usually focuses on limiting consumption of red meat, alcohol and refined grains while increasing plant-based foods" coauthor of the study, Ruth Patterson says. "New evidence [however] suggests that when and how often people eat can also play a role in cancer risk."

So instead of asking their research subjects to put down those Cosmopolitans or avoid those steak dinners they've come to enjoy, the researchers asked them to change their eating habits, fasting longer instead. And what the researchers found was that the longer periods of fasting overnight correlated to better control over blood glucose concentrations, and the women who increased their mean nighttime fasting to 12 hours or more actually consumed less, even at five small meals a day.

"Increasing the duration of overnight fasting could be a novel strategy to reduce the risk of developing breast cancer" lead author of the study, Catherine Marinac says. "This is a simple dietary change that we believe most women can understand and adopt."

"It may have a big impact on public health without requiring complicated counting of calories or nutrients."

Preliminary results discussed in the study appear to be promising when applied on a larger public health context, however the researchers continue to recommend that large-scale clinical trials be conducted to confirm their fasting results.

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