MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Ruth E. Patterson, PhD
Professor, Department of Family Medicine and Public Health
Associate Director, Population Sciences
Program Leader, Cancer Prevention
Moores Cancer Center
UC San Diego
La Jolla, CA
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Dr. Patterson: Our research team was intrigued with studies in mice showing that even when eating a high-fat diet, mice who were subjected to a 16-hour fasting regimen during the sleep phase were protected against abnormal glucose metabolism, inflammation and weight gain; all of which are associated with poor cancer outcomes.
We had access to a study conducted in breast cancer survivors called the Women’s Healthy Eating and Living Study (WHEL). Participants in this study completed food records, which give the time of eating meals and snacks. We used the food records to estimate the average nightly fasting interval in 2413 breast cancer survivors. Overall, we found that women who had a nightly fasting interval of less than 13 hours had a 36% increased risk of breast cancer recurrence and a nonsignificant increase in mortality. We also found that women with a short nightly fast had poorer glucoregulation and worse sleep, both of which might explain the link to breast cancer.
MedicalResearch.com: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?
Dr. Patterson: Among generally healthy adults, there are no apparent risks of extending the nightly fasting interval and it could potentially improve your metabolic health and/or sleep patterns. However the data are too premature to make a public health or practice guideline regarding nightly fasting and breast cancer risk.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?
Dr. Patterson: We think that it is time to conduct randomized trials in free-living adults to determine the short-term effect of a prolonged nightly fast on biomarkers of metabolic risk, such as insulin, glucose and c-reactive protein. If those trials have positive outcomes, future studies can assess whether this dietary pattern can reduce the risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancers.
MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?
Dr. Patterson: We believe that prolonged nightly fasting may be an important nonpharmacologic strategy for reducing the risk of chronic disease and cancer because it is simple and feasible.
MedicalResearch.com: Thank you for your contribution to the MedicalResearch.com community.
Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.
Dr. Ruth Patterson (2016). Shorter Overnight Fast May Increase Risk of Breast Cancer Recurrence MedicalResearch.com