Frequency and Timing of Eating May Influence Breast Cancer Risk

Chronic inflammation and insulin resistance have been shown to elevate the risk of developing breast cancer. Both of these factors are strongly influenced by diet. Marinac, et. al. conducted a trial in which they carefully monitored the timing and frequency of meals and length of overnight fasting to determine whether these factors influenced inflammation or insulin resistance.

To measure inflammation, doctors measure the amounts of C-reactive protein (CRP) in the blood. When blood CRP levels are elevated there is more inflammation throughout the body. To measure insulin, doctors directly measure insulin levels in the blood. Abnormally high levels of insulin in the blood can indicate insulin resistance. Insulin tells the body to take excess glucose (i.e. sugar) out of the blood stream. When the body doesn’t listen to insulin, glucose remains in the blood.

This study looked at 2,650 adult women in America who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey in 2009–2010. The research team found that eating 10% more food at night compared to during the day increased CRP levels (and therefore their inflammation levels) by 3%; but, eating one additional meal or snack per day decreased CRP by 8%. They also found that fasting for a longer duration during the evening decreased CRP by 8% among women (who ate less than 30% of their total daily calories in the evening) and lowered average blood glucose concentrations (an indication the body is responsive to insulin).

By the end of their study, these researchers found that eating more frequently, eating less at night, and fasting for longer at night may lower inflammation in your body, and as a result lower your risk of breast cancer. Their results suggest an interesting behavioural approach to preventing breast cancer that does not rely on therapeutics.


Summary written by: Serena Drouillard


To read the full paper, please click the following link:

Frequency and Circadian Timing of Eating May Influence Biomarkers of Inflammation and Insulin Resistance Associated with Breast Cancer Risk

Catherine R. Marinac, Dorothy D. Sears, Loki Natarajan, Linda C. Gallo, Caitlin I. Breen, Ruth E. Patterson

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