Research Grant Spotlight: Association between nightly fasting and cancer risk
This past April, Padres Pedal presented $1.3 million to fund seven innovative research projects being conducted by teams of researchers from our beneficiary institutions. On a monthly basis, we will be highlighting one of the projects to provide additional information to our readers into the research that is funded by your miles of riding and tireless efforts in fundraising.
Here is the grant summary for this month’s featured project followed by a Q&A with one of the researchers.
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To give us further insight into the project, we interviewed one of the researchers Ruth Patterson, PhD, leader of the cancer prevention program at UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center. Dr. Patterson discusses the connection between prolonged nightly fasting and breast cancer risk.
Padres Pedal: Results from your previous studies has shown an association between nightly fasting and breast cancer risk and recurrence. Why study fasting?
Dr. Patterson: The dietary advice for cancer prevention usually focuses on limiting consumption of red meat, alcohol and refined grains while increasing plant-based foods. However, new evidence suggests that when and how often people eat can play a role in cancer risk. Prolonging your nightly fast is a simple dietary change that we believe most women can understand and adopt. It may have a big impact on public health without requiring complicated counting of calories or nutrients or medications. Increasing the duration of overnight fasting could be a novel strategy to reduce the risk of developing breast cancer. We need randomized trials to confirm that longer nighttime fasting results in favorable changes to biomarkers and other risk factors for breast cancer.
Padres Pedal: How does fasting longer reduce the risk of breast cancer?
Dr. Patterson: A decrease in the amount of time spent eating and an increase in overnight fasting appears to reduce glucose levels and inflammation, and may reduce the risk of breast cancer. Women who fasted for longer periods of time overnight had significantly better blood glucose concentrations. In addition, our data showed that each three hour increase in nighttime fasting was associated with a 4 percent lower post-meal glucose concentration. Women in the study who reported longer fast durations also indicated they consumed fewer calories per day, ate fewer calories after 10 pm, and had fewer eating episodes per day.
Padres Pedal: Your work also suggests that increasing the duration of nightly fasting may reduce the risk of breast cancer recurring among survivors, how?
Dr. Patterson: We recently reported that there was a 36 percent higher risk of breast cancer recurrence when women fasted for less than 13 hours overnight. In addition, we saw a 22 percent higher risk of mortality from any cause among patients with breast cancer who fasted for shorter periods. This study in breast cancer survivors also found that a shorter nightly fast was associated with higher blood glucose levels and fewer hours of sleep per night. If future trials confirm that prolonged nightly fasting improves metabolic health, this would be an important discovery in prevention that could reduce the risk of different cancers, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
Padres Pedal: How will Padres Pedal funding help in your research?
Dr. Patterson: The Padres Pedal funding will allow us to collect evidence as to whether prolonged nightly fasting can protect against obesity, high insulin levels, fatty liver, and inflammation –which can reduce your risk of getting cancer. Cancer prevention is a silent victory, which can make it hard to garner the same resources as treatment, which has compelling tales of survival. Yet, the cancer prevention story is just as important and needs to be told just as loudly.
Padres Pedal: Thank you Dr. Patterson for taking time to do this interview and for sharing this important information with us. 🚴
If you would like to see all the summaries for the grants funded by Pedal 2015, please click here.