“Christmas Roast and Ham Dinner. Had Tamales for Christmas Eve and Christmas morning. #Roast #Ham #ChristmasDinner #Christmas #Champagne #Dinner #Foodstagram” by Yvonne Esperanza is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Early Dinner May Lower Cancer Risk

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
“Christmas Roast and Ham Dinner. Had Tamales for Christmas Eve and Christmas morning. #Roast #Ham #ChristmasDinner #Christmas #Champagne #Dinner #Foodstagram” by Yvonne Esperanza is licensed under CC BY 2.0Manolis Kogevinas, MD, PhD

Research Professor
NCDs & Environment Group
Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) – Campus MAR
Barcelona Biomedical Research Park (PRBB) (office 194)
Barcelona, Spain

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: We did the study for two main reasons.

(i) breast and to a less extent prostate cancer are the cancers that have been associated with night shift work and resulting circadian disruption (disruption of the natural day-light cycle);

(ii) experimental studies in animals indicate that timing of diet is important. For example, giving an hypercaloric diet to mice during the day results in obesity, while giving the same diet during the night does not. Mice are nocturnal animals and this means that there normal eating time is the night when they can metabolise what they eat. So, would something similar affect humans? When we eat in late hours at a time when “normally” (normally in the sense of evolution) we would be resting.

In this study we show that adherence to a more diurnal eating pattern and specifically an early supper and a long interval between last meal and sleep are associated with a lower breast and prostate cancer risk. Specifically having super before 9pm and having an interval of 2 hours between the last big meal and sleep, were both associated with an approximately 20% prevention of breast and prostate cancer) compared to those who have supper after 10pm or those who eat and then sleep very close after supper.

Also, the strongest protection was found in “morning types” as compared to “evening types”. Morning types are expected to function worse than evening types in late evening so late suppers may have more adverse effects on them.

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: That it is not healthy to have late suppers and go to sleep immediately after. This is the main message. Our results stress the importance of evaluating circadian rhythms in studies on diet and cancer and developing recommendations for prevention not focusing only on type and quantity of food intake.

Until now recommendations refer to what we eat (for example vegetables and fruits, red meat) and how much we eat (amount of calories). These recommendations are important. However, despite increasing evidence on the importance of circadian patterns we have not examined timing of diet nor do we have recommendations. It is true that dietary patterns are defined by wider societal factors, for example in Spain we have supper later than in Sweden. However similar to what we have achieved with recommendations on diet, i.e. convincing people that they should be eating less red and processed meat, we should also do with recommendations on timing. 

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: We need to develop more population research and test our results in other populations, including populations that eat earlier than in Spain. Also there are other aspects that have been identified in some experimental studies indicating that it is important to have a long period of repose, i.e. many hours between supper and breakfast without eating. We did not identify this an important factor in our study, but it should be tested. What we believe is important is to develop recommendations after we accumulate more evidence in human populations. Our study is the first one to identify in a big population study that diurnal timing of meals is important. However, if we want to develop solid and specific recommendations we should accumulate more evidence in different populations. 

No conflicts of interest this research was funded by public sources in Spain


Manolis Kogevinas, Ana Espinosa, Adela Castelló, Inés Gómez-Acebo, Marcela Guevara, Vicente Martin, Pilar Amiano, Juan Alguacil, Rosana Peiro, Victor Moreno, Laura Costas, Guillermo Fernández-Tardón, Jose Juan Jimenez, Rafael Marcos-Gragera, Beatriz Perez-Gomez, Javier Llorca, Conchi Moreno-Iribas, Tania Fernández-Villa, Madalen Oribe, Nuria Aragones, Kyriaki Papantoniou, Marina Pollán, Gemma Castano-Vinyals, Dora Romaguera. Effect of mistimed eating patterns on breast and prostate cancer risk (MCC-Spain study). Int J Cancer. June 2018

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Last Updated on July 19, 2018 by Marie Benz MD FAAD