Prostate cancer can develop when cells in the prostate – a gland that is usually the size and shape of a walnut – start to grow in an uncontrolled way. It usually develops slowly, so there may be no signs for many years. Leading a lifestyle may help to reduce the risk of being diagnosed with advanced or aggressive prostate cancer, according to Prostate Cancer UK. One study revealed having an early supper or leaving an interval of at least two hours before going to bed is associated with a lower risk of developing the disease.

Little emphasis has been placed on the timing of food intake

The study, published in International Journal of Cancer, found that people who take their evening meal before 9pm or wait at least two hours before going to sleep have an approximate 20 per cent lower risk of developing prostate cancer compared to people who have supper after 10pm or those who eat and go to bed very close afterwards, respectively.

The research also identified the same risk reduction for breast cancer.

There is a growing body of evidence linking certain foods to an increased risk of developing cancer but little emphasis has been placed on the timing of food intake and the activities people do before and after meals.

The aim of the study, published in the International Journal of Cancer, was to assess whether meal timing could be associated with risk of breast and prostate cancer, two of the most common cancers worldwide.

Breast and prostate cancers are also among those most strongly associated with night-shift work, circadian disruption and alteration of biological rhythms.

The researchers assessed each participant’s lifestyle and chronotype (an individual attribute correlating with preference for morning or evening activity).

The study included data from 621 cases of prostate cancer and 1,205 cases of breast cancer, as well as 872 male and 1,321 female controls selected randomly from primary health centres.

The participants, who represented various parts of Spain, were interviewed about their meal timing, sleep habits and chronotype and completed a questionnaire on their eating habits and adherence to cancer prevention recommendations.

“Our study concludes that adherence to diurnal eating patterns is associated with a lower risk of cancer,” explained ISGlobal researcher Manolis Kogevinas, lead author of the study. The findings “highlight the importance of assessing circadian rhythms in studies on diet and cancer,” he added.

If the findings are confirmed, Kogevinas noted, “they will have implications for cancer prevention recommendations, which currently do not take meal timing into account.”

He added: “The impact could be especially important in cultures such as those of southern Europe, where people have supper late.”

ISGlobal researcher Dora Romaguera, the last author of the study, commented: “Further research in humans is needed in order to understand the reasons behind these findings, but everything seems to indicate that the timing of sleep affects our capacity to metabolise food.”

As Prostate Cancer UK reported, the latest research suggests that being overweight may increase a person’s risk of aggressive or advanced prostate cancer.

Maintaining physically active will help someone maintain a health weight and may counter the risk of developing the disease.

“Vigorous exercise may be better than light exercise, but any exercise is better than none at all,” noted Prostate Cancer UK.

The health body also advised sticking to a healthy, balanced diet, including lots of fruit and vegetables.

It added: “You can’t change your age, ethnicity or family history, but you can take control of your diet and weight.”

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