Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women worldwide. Although breast cancer death rates have been dropping since 1989, approximately 40,450 American women will die from breast cancer this year. Breast cancer claims the lives of more women than any other cancer besides lung cancer. And this year 246,660 women in the United States will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer.
A recent study published March 31, 2016 in JAMA Oncology highlights an interesting health hack that could potentially help reduce the risk of breast cancer recurrence. Breast cancer can return at any time, but typically reemerges within the first 5 years of breast cancer treatment. While more studies, particularly randomized controlled experiments, need to be conducted in order to validate the findings, the potential is promising and doesn’t carry any health risks should you decide to try it out.
What Researchers Discovered About Fasting
University of San Diego researchers examined data from 2,413 non-diabetic women involved with the Women’s Healthy Eating and Living study. The study was originally conducted to determine the impact a low-fat diet high in vegetables, fiber, and fruit had on breast cancer recurrence, new breast cancer diagnosis, and survival odds. For the most recent analysis, researchers investigated the findings to calculate how long on average the women fasted, and the possible link between the number of hours spent fasting and breast cancer diagnosis, recurrence, and deaths.
An in-depth analysis revealed that fasting for fewer than 13 hours a night might raise your risk of breast cancer recurrence by 36%! Researchers also discovered that fasting for fewer than 13 hours was linked to less sleep and higher concentrations of glycated hemoglobin, which is a measure of your average blood sugar levels over several months.
Researchers don’t know why fasting reduces breast cancer recurrence risk, but it might be due in part to fasting’s effect on blood sugar levels. Blood sugar levels dropped for every 2 extra hours of fasting. In contrast, higher glycated hemoglobin levels and less sleep have been implicated as culprits in increasing cancer risk.
Other Health Benefits of Fasting
As indicated by this analysis, it’s not necessary to go hungry all day in order to benefit from fasting. Finish eating at 8 pm in the evening, and don’t eat until 9 am the next day, and you will have fasted for 13 hours! Other health benefits of fasting may include:
- Lower insulin levels, which boosts fat burning
- Increased concentrations of human growth hormone, which contributes to fat burning and muscle building
- Enhanced cellular repair and gene expression
- Better insulin sensitivity, which helps lower your risk for diabetes
- Decreased inflammation and oxidation in the body
- Improved heart and brain health
- Extended longevity
Just listen to your body. Are you really hungry as soon as you wake up? Give yourself some time to feel the growl!