The Open Nutraceuticals Journal


ISSN: 1876-3960 ― Volume 8, 2015

Associations of Circadian Disruption of Sleep and Nutritional Factors with Risk of Cancer

The Open Nutraceuticals Journal, 2012, 5: 124-135

B. Anjum, R. B. Singh, Narsingh Verma, Ranjana Singh, A. A. Mahdi, R. K. Singh, Fabien De Meester, Agnieszka Wilczynska, Toru Takahashi, Suniti Dharwadkar, Douglas W. Wilson

Halberg Hospital and Research Institute, Civil Lines, Moradabad (UP), India.

Electronic publication date 25/5/2012
[DOI: 10.2174/1876396001205010124]



Daily entrainment of the human circadian clock is important for good human health. In previous studies, shift work has been linked to higher risk of chronic diseases, including certain types of cancers. Exposure to light at night suppresses the physiologic production of melatonin, a hormone that has antiproliferative effects on intestinal cancers. In the present review, we examine the available evidence on sleep disruption, changes in nutrient intake and nutritional factors and risk of cancers.


Internet search of PubMed and discussion with colleagues.


Recent studies indicate that night shift work appears to have independent influence on the function of the endocrine system, gastrointestinal tract and circadian brain function. Sleep disruption enhances cortisol secretion and ghrelin release from the stomach and decreases melatonin and leptin which interfere with functioning of beta cells of pancreas. Apart from biological dysfunctions, behavioral changes, increased intake of refined carbohydrates, w-6 fats and low w-3 fats, physical inactivity, excess of tobacco and alcoholism appear to be common among night shift workers. Leptin signals the brain to feel satiety whereas ghrelin, produced in the stomach, signals hunger. Recent studies also indicate that sleep-deprived individuals with hormonal changes have greater cravings for sweet and fatty foods. Apart from this, stress hormone cortisol, which increases with sleep deprivation also contribute to hunger. In addition to altered hormone levels, late night awakening provides greater opportunity to eat, smoke and drink alcohol and eating often includes high-caloric foods. Epidemiological studies indicate that sleep disruption may be associated with obesity and other chronic diseases including cancers. Since electric light at night has adverse effects among night shift workers compared to day shift workers, it has been proposed that a portion of the high and rising risk of breast and prostate cancer worldwide may be because of night shift work. The suppression of melatonin by exposure to light at night may be one reason for the higher rates of breast, prostate and colorectal cancers in the developed world. Suppression of nocturnal melatonin by exposure to light at night results in lack of protection by melatonin on cancer cell receptor sites which allows the uptake of linoleic acid (LA) which in turn enhances the growth of cancer cells. Melatonin is a protective, oncostatic hormone and strong antioxidant having evolved in all plants and animals over the millennia. It is possible that rotating night shift at least three nights per month for 15 or more years may increase the risk of colorectal cancer and other cancers.


Experimental evidence and limited human evidence allowed the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) to classify circadian disruption of sleep, as a probable human carcinogen, group 2A. Behavioral changes, intake of fast foods, physical inactivity, excess of tobacco and alcoholism are common among night shift workers which may also apart from deficiency of melatonin.

Download PDF

Track Your Manuscript:


"Open access will revolutionize 21st century knowledge work and accelerate the diffusion of ideas and evidence that support just in time learning and the evolution of thinking in a number of disciplines."

Daniel Pesut
(Indiana University School of Nursing, USA)

"It is important that students and researchers from all over the world can have easy access to relevant, high-standard and timely scientific information. This is exactly what Open Access Journals provide and this is the reason why I support this endeavor."

Jacques Descotes
(Centre Antipoison-Centre de Pharmacovigilance, France)

"Publishing research articles is the key for future scientific progress. Open Access publishing is therefore of utmost importance for wider dissemination of information, and will help serving the best interest of the scientific community."

Patrice Talaga
(UCB S.A., Belgium)

"Open access journals are a novel concept in the medical literature. They offer accessible information to a wide variety of individuals, including physicians, medical students, clinical investigators, and the general public. They are an outstanding source of medical and scientific information."

Jeffrey M. Weinberg
(St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center, USA)

"Open access journals are extremely useful for graduate students, investigators and all other interested persons to read important scientific articles and subscribe scientific journals. Indeed, the research articles span a wide range of area and of high quality. This is specially a must for researchers belonging to institutions with limited library facility and funding to subscribe scientific journals."

Debomoy K. Lahiri
(Indiana University School of Medicine, USA)

"Open access journals represent a major break-through in publishing. They provide easy access to the latest research on a wide variety of issues. Relevant and timely articles are made available in a fraction of the time taken by more conventional publishers. Articles are of uniformly high quality and written by the world's leading authorities."

Robert Looney
(Naval Postgraduate School, USA)

"Open access journals have transformed the way scientific data is published and disseminated: particularly, whilst ensuring a high quality standard and transparency in the editorial process, they have increased the access to the scientific literature by those researchers that have limited library support or that are working on small budgets."

Richard Reithinger
(Westat, USA)

"Not only do open access journals greatly improve the access to high quality information for scientists in the developing world, it also provides extra exposure for our papers."

J. Ferwerda
(University of Oxford, UK)

"Open Access 'Chemistry' Journals allow the dissemination of knowledge at your finger tips without paying for the scientific content."

Sean L. Kitson
(Almac Sciences, Northern Ireland)

"In principle, all scientific journals should have open access, as should be science itself. Open access journals are very helpful for students, researchers and the general public including people from institutions which do not have library or cannot afford to subscribe scientific journals. The articles are high standard and cover a wide area."

Hubert Wolterbeek
(Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands)

"The widest possible diffusion of information is critical for the advancement of science. In this perspective, open access journals are instrumental in fostering researches and achievements."

Alessandro Laviano
(Sapienza - University of Rome, Italy)

"Open access journals are very useful for all scientists as they can have quick information in the different fields of science."

Philippe Hernigou
(Paris University, France)

"There are many scientists who can not afford the rather expensive subscriptions to scientific journals. Open access journals offer a good alternative for free access to good quality scientific information."

Fidel Toldrá
(Instituto de Agroquimica y Tecnologia de Alimentos, Spain)

"Open access journals have become a fundamental tool for students, researchers, patients and the general public. Many people from institutions which do not have library or cannot afford to subscribe scientific journals benefit of them on a daily basis. The articles are among the best and cover most scientific areas."

M. Bendandi
(University Clinic of Navarre, Spain)

"These journals provide researchers with a platform for rapid, open access scientific communication. The articles are of high quality and broad scope."

Peter Chiba
(University of Vienna, Austria)

"Open access journals are probably one of the most important contributions to promote and diffuse science worldwide."

Jaime Sampaio
(University of Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro, Portugal)

"Open access journals make up a new and rather revolutionary way to scientific publication. This option opens several quite interesting possibilities to disseminate openly and freely new knowledge and even to facilitate interpersonal communication among scientists."

Eduardo A. Castro
(INIFTA, Argentina)

"Open access journals are freely available online throughout the world, for you to read, download, copy, distribute, and use. The articles published in the open access journals are high quality and cover a wide range of fields."

Kenji Hashimoto
(Chiba University, Japan)

"Open Access journals offer an innovative and efficient way of publication for academics and professionals in a wide range of disciplines. The papers published are of high quality after rigorous peer review and they are Indexed in: major international databases. I read Open Access journals to keep abreast of the recent development in my field of study."

Daniel Shek
(Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong)

"It is a modern trend for publishers to establish open access journals. Researchers, faculty members, and students will be greatly benefited by the new journals of Bentham Science Publishers Ltd. in this category."

Jih Ru Hwu
(National Central University, Taiwan)

Browse Contents

Webmaster Contact:
Copyright © 2022 Bentham Open