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01.12.2017 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2017 Open Access

Breast Cancer Research 1/2017

Nighttime eating and breast cancer among Chinese women in Hong Kong

Breast Cancer Research > Ausgabe 1/2017
Mengjie Li, Lap Ah Tse, Wing-cheong Chan, Chi-hei Kwok, Siu-lan Leung, Cherry Wu, Wai-cho Yu, Priscilla Ming-yi Lee, Koon-ho Tsang, Sze-hong Law, Roel Vermeulen, Fangyi Gu, Neil E. Caporaso, Ignatius Tak-sun Yu, Feng Wang, Xiaohong Rose Yang
Wichtige Hinweise

Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (doi:10.​1186/​s13058-017-0821-x) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Mengjie Li and Lap Ah Tse are co-first author



A novel line of research suggests that eating at nighttime may have several metabolic consequences that are highly relevant to breast cancer. We investigated the association between nighttime eating habits after 10 p.m. and breast cancer in Hong Kong women.


A hospital-based case-control study was conducted during 2012–2015. A total of 922 patients with incident breast cancer (cases) and 913 hospital controls were recruited and interviewed using a standard questionnaire including information on eating behavior during both daytime and nighttime. We collected the timing, duration, types and frequencies of food intake of eating at nighttime. Odds ratios (ORs) for the risk of breast cancer in relation to nighttime eating-related variables were calculated by unconditional multivariable logistic regression.


Eating at night after 10 pm was significantly associated with breast cancer with an adjusted OR of 1.50 (95% confidence interval (CI) 1.06–2.12, P = 0.02), and the associations were stronger in women who had the longest duration of nighttime eating (≥20 years) (adjusted OR = 2.28 (95% CI 1.13–4.61, P = 0.02) and who ate late (midnight to 2 a.m.) (adjusted OR = 2.73, 95% CI 1.01–6.99, P = 0.04). Interestingly, nighttime eating was only associated with breast cancer among women who consumed staple foods (OR = 2.16, 95% CI 1.42–3.29, P < 0.001) but not those who ate vegetables or fruits as nighttime meals. The significant association between nighttime eating and breast cancer was observed among women with body mass index (BMI) <25 (OR = 2.29, 95% CI 1.48–3.52, P < 0.001) but not among women with BMI ≥25.


Results from this study suggest a possible association between nighttime eating behavior and breast cancer. These findings need to be confirmed by independent large studies.
Additional file 1: Nighttime eating exposure assessment. (DOCX 13 kb)
Additional file 2: Table S1. Distribution of dietary factors among breast cancer cases and controls in Hong Kong Chinese women, 2012–15. (DOCX 32 kb)
Additional file 3: Table S2. Associations between nighttime eating and breast cancer stratified by menopausal status. (DOCX 14 kb)
Additional file 4: Table S3. Associations between nighttime eating and breast cancer stratified by ER status. (DOCX 14 kb)
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