Researchers have found a link between sleep cycles and cancer rates. Virginia Tech biologists found that a protein responsible for the regulation of our circadian rhythm is also responsible for protecting our bodies from developing sporadic forms of cancers.

Specifically, researchers found that â€œunaltered, the human period 2 protein directly interacts with tumor suppressor proteins in cells to control cell division. When human period 2 protein is non-functional because it is either mutated or somehow modified, then, it is unable to do its job and prevent the cells from dividing at certain times of the day,” Gotoh said. “This is particularly a problem in cases where tumor suppressor genes are mutated as it happens in more than 80 percent of all cancer cases.”


Researchers are now able to work with patients to identify those at risk for developing cancers from the defective protein and the gene that produces it. The results from these studies will help develop new and more effective prevention strategies for the at risk populations, such as night shift workers, who are exposed to light at night on a regular basis.

In recent years researchers have gained great knowledge about the inner workings of the circadian clock, the internal clock that controls our sleep/wake cycles and a whole host of other bodily rhythms which helps determine how much sleep one needs. These disruptions in the circadian clock have been linked to not only cancer, but also the development of cardiovascular and gastrointestinal diseases as well as metabolic disorders such as insulin resistance, type II diabetes, and obesity.

Blask, David. “Melatonin, Sleep Disturbance and Cancer Risk.” Sleep Medicine Reviews. Science Direct. Web. 25 Feb. 2015.

“Gotta Get That Rhythm: Researchers Find a Relationship between Sleep Cycle, Cancer Incidence.” Gotta Get That Rhythm: Researchers Find a Relationship between Sleep Cycle, Cancer Incidence. Virginia Tech, 3 Dec. 2014. Web. 25 Feb. 2015.

“The Circadian Factor Period 2 Modulates P53 Stability and Transcriptional Activity in Unstressed Cells.” Molecular Biology of the Cell. The American Society For Cell Biology, 31 July 2014. Web. 25 Feb. 2015.