Skip to main content

Are late-night meals affecting our health?

Is your late night meal delivering cancer on a plate? Are late night meals affecting your health?  A new study suggests timing of late night meals is linked to cancer risk.

Modern lifestyles have profoundly changed our eating habits. Our food consumption is now often out of step with our circadian rhythms.

We eat to fit into our busy lifestyles, rather than adjusting our lives to our eating needs.  How many of us have late night meals and go to bed soon after eating? 

A body of evidence now suggests that this mismatch,  or 'mistiming',  can  profoundly affect our health.

Lifestyles driving eating habits. 

Experimental and epidemiological evidence shows that long term disruption of endogenous circadian rhythms, in particular due to exposure to light at night, may be associated with a wide range of common diseases, including cancer, cardiovascular diseases, obesity and type 2 diabetes.  Now this new study provides some evidence to show that this extends to our night-time eating habits.

From an evolutionary perspective, intermittent eating patterns with periods of fasting would have been the norm in early humans.  Food was primarily consumed during daylight, and with long hours of overnight fasting.

Modern conveniences and lifestyle have stretched this so that we are now eating way past daylight hours.  The idea is that this has decoupled our food consumption and digestion from our natural biological clocks, our circadian rhythm. 

New study in Spain

The new study published in the International Journal of Cancer  reveals that eating an early supper and having a long interval between the last meal and sleep are associated with lower breast and prostate cancer risks.

The study included 621 cases of prostate and 1205 of breast cancer with 872 male and 1321 female population controls. Participants were interviewed on timing of meals and sleep, and they completed a Food Frequency Questionnaire.

Risk of breast and prostate cancers

Compared with individuals sleeping immediately after supper, those sleeping two or more hours after supper had a 20% reduction in cancer risk for breast and prostate cancer combined and in each cancer individually. A similar protection was observed in individuals having supper before 9pm compared with supper after 10pm.

The findings stress the importance of evaluating the body’s internal clock—or circadian rhythms—in studies on diet and cancer, and the need to develop dietary recommendations for cancer prevention that focus not only on type and quantity of food intake, but also on meal times.

“If the findings are confirmed, they will have implications for cancer prevention recommendations that currently do not take meal timing into account” says lead author Dr. Manolis Kogevinas, of ISGlobal, in Barcelona.
The impact could be especially important in cultures such as those of southern Europe where people tend to have supper late.



Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Ian Duncan-Smith says he wants to make those on benefits 'better people'!

By any account, the government's austerity strategy is utilitarian. It justifies its approach by the presumed potential ends. It's objective is to cut the deficit, but it has also adopted another objective which is specifically targeted. It seeks to drive people off benefits and 'back to work'.  The two together are toxic to the poorest in society. Those least able to cope are the most affected by the cuts in benefits and the loss of services. It is the coupling of these two strategic aims that make their policies ethically questionable. For, by combining the two, slashing the value of benefits to make budget savings while also changing the benefits system, the highest burden falls on a specific group, those dependent on benefits. For the greater good of the majority, a minority group, those on benefits, are being sacrificed; sacrificed on the altar of austerity. And they are being sacrificed in part so that others may be spared. Utilitarian ethics considers the ba

Mr Duncan-Smith offers a disingenuous and divisive comparison

Some time ago, actually it was a long time ago when I was in my early teens, someone close to me bought a table. It was an early flat pack variety. It came with a top and four legs. He followed the instructions to the letter screwing the legs into the top. But when he had completed it the table wobbled. One leg he explained was shorter than the other three; so he sawed a bit from each of the other legs. The table wobbled. One leg, he explained, was longer than the other three. So, he sawed a bit off. The table wobbled. He went on cutting the legs, but the table continued to wobble. Cut, cut, cut! By this time he had convinced himself there was no alternative to it.  He ended up with a very low table indeed, supported by four very stumpy legs and a bit of cardboard placed under one of them to stop it wobbling on the uneven floor.  Mr Duncan-Smith argues that we need a 1% cap on benefits to be 'fair to average earners'. Average  earners have seen their incomes rise by less tha

His way or none? Why I can't vote for Jeremy

There is an assumption that all would be well with the Labour Party if people hadn't expressed their genuine concern with what they consider the inadequacies of Jeremy Corbyn's leadership. If only, it is said, the Parliamentary Labour Party and his Shadow Cabinet had supported him, instead of undermining him, all would have been fine. If they had been quiet and towed the line, then the party would not have been in the mess it is in. So, should they have stayed silent, or speak of their concerns? There comes a point when the cost of staying silent outweighs the cost of speaking out. This is a judgment. Many call it a coup by the PLP. They paint a picture of a right-wing PLP out of touch with the membership.  This is the narrative of the Corbyn camp. But Jeremy Corbyn, over the decades he has been in politics, showed the way.  It was Jeremy Corbyn who opposed almost all Labour leaders and rarely held back from speaking out, or voting time and again against the party line. As