Irregular Sleep Patterns Possibly Linked to Cancer and Obesity

A recent study in Current Biology suggests a link between irregular sleep patterns and the early onset of breast cancer and obesity.

Researchers manipulated the sleeping patterns of cancer-exposed mice every week for a year. Each week, researchers delayed the mice’s normal sleeping patterns by 12 hours, disrupting the mice’s natural internal rhythm or “body clock.”

Under normal circumstances, the cancer-exposed mice would begin developing cancer tumors after 50 weeks, but under controlled circumstances, the tumors began to form eight weeks earlier. Researchers also noted that the mice were 20% heavier even though their diet stayed the same.

The results have been labeled as “definitive experimental proof,” which suggests that, for humans, having an irregular sleep schedule could mean an initial 8-pound weight gain or getting breast cancer five years earlier.

Granted, transferring the results to how they could affect humans is difficult. However, the report suggests that women who have a family history of breast cancer should avoid working night shifts or participating in any activities that would require them to regularly disrupt their sleep schedules and internal “body clocks.”