To be more specific, individuals who ate dinner before 9 p.m. or waited two hours until going to bed were less likely to develop breast/prostate cancer than their counterparts.
Though extensive research has probed links between types of food and cancer risk, little attention has been paid to how cancer risk might be affected by mealtimes and what people do before and after eating, the study authors said.
The study was the first to analyse the association between cancer risk and the timing of meals and sleep.
The aim is to gather samples from 10,000 prostate cancer patients to see if genes, stress, segregation or other factors account for the higher rates of the disease in African-American men, the National Institutes of Health said. "We - not only humans but all living organisms - have developed throughout time functioning differently in day and night".
Nutrition research often focuses on how much we eat, and how we eat. Over the past 20 years, studies investigating this disparity have been small in size and limited in scope. These different patterns could lead to different cancer risks.
"This study, which is combining state-of-the-art molecular approaches with social and environmental science, will help unravel the complex interactions of biological, behavioral, and environmental factors that contribute to excess prostate cancer burden and poorer outcomes in African-American men, allowing development of tailored approaches for prevention, diagnosis, and treatment in this population", said NIMHD Director Eliseo Pérez-Stable, M.D. Researchers also looked at adherence to a healthy lifestyle as defined by the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) and American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR).
Our lack of understanding about the increased burden of prostate cancer in African-American men remains one of the most important unanswered health disparities in the U.S.as well as New Jersey. Most strongly this effect was pronounced in "larks" and those who adhered to the standard recommendations for cancer prevention, for example, maintained a healthy body weight and does not abuse alcohol.
"You don't need research to tell you if you eat a lot or drink a lot and go straight to bed then you won't sleep well that night", Kogevinas explained.
Michael MacIntyre, M.D., is a psychiatry resident working in the ABC News Medical Unit.