Life Wellbeing How food before bed could be harming you
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How food before bed could be harming you

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Stop! Close the fridge. A new study has found that eating just before bed can increase the risk of breast cancer recurrence.

Adding to an already strong case against late-night snacks, a study led by scientists from the University of San Diego found eating before bed gave women a 36 per cent greater chance of redeveloping tumours.

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The scientists argue waiting less than 13 hours before breakfast increased tumour risk, although it didn’t increase the risk of death among the 2000 participants.

And while this latest study focused on breast cancer survivors only, a 2015 study linked both breast cancer and diabetes to eating before bed, based on increased haemoglobin and blood sugar levels.

Dr Kristy Brown is investigating the link between obesity and breast cancer. Photo: Supplied
Dr Kristy Brown is investigating the link between obesity and breast cancer. Photo: Supplied

Dr Sarah Hosking, CEO of the National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF), said “studies such as this are part of a growing body of evidence that maintaining a healthy lifestyle before, during and after breast cancer diagnosis and treatment plays an integral role in how women and men are affected by the disease”.

Mounting case links obesity and breast cancer

Dr Hosking said the NBCF had just announced the link between obesity and breast cancer as one of the research areas it was funding for 2016.

The study will be led by Dr Kristy Brown from the Hudson Institute of Medical Research in Melbourne, who said Australians were unfortunately not aware of the link.

“The link is especially strong in women who have undergone menopause,” she said.

“In those cases, most breast cancers are dependent on the hormone estrogen to grow.”

The study, funded in part thanks to the Mother’s Day Classic fun run and walk, will also look into how we can prevent the growth of tumours using a special protein called ‘ghrelin’, produced in the gut.

Researchers said fasting for longer overnight was an easy change to make. Photo: Getty/Supplied
Researchers said fasting for longer overnight was an easy change to make. Photo: Getty/Supplied

It’s just one of a number of studies to investigate how being overweight or obese – like two-thirds of Australian women – can lead to various cancers.

In fact, the Cancer Council claims there is strong evidence that the extra kilos are risk factors for bowel, kidney, liver, pancreas, gallbladder, oesophagus, endometrium, ovary, breast (in postmenopausal women) and prostate (advanced) cancers.

Staying in shape

While obesity is defined as a body mass index (BMI) of over 30, studies have shown our waist size is another important number to keep an eye on.

Physical activity naturally drops off as we get older, but there are suitable exercises for every age group, and experts say it’s important to keep moving.

As for our diets, studies have shown eating before bed can not only lead to increased risk for breast cancer recurrence, but weight gain – pure and simple.

Research surrounding what we eat and when we eat it continues, but in the meantime it appears ‘break-fast’ gained its name for a reason.


Neither the Mother’s Day Classic nor the National Breast Cancer Foundation are affiliated with the above research concerning eating before bedtime.

The New Daily is a media partner of the Women in Super Mother’s Day Classic, which takes place in 100 locations around Australia on Sunday May 8, raising money for the National Breast Cancer Foundation to help fund breast cancer research.

It’s not too late to take place in this year’s event. Register or donate at www.mothersdayclassic.com.au.

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