BACKGROUND: Sleep disturbance, a correlate of which is daytime napping, has been hypothesised to be associated with risk of breast and other cancers. METHODS: We estimated relative risks (RR) of breast and other invasive cancers by the reported frequency of daytime napping in a large prospective cohort of middle-aged women in the UK. RESULTS: During an average of 7.4 years of follow-up, 20 058 breast cancers and 31 856 other cancers were diagnosed. Over the first 4 years of follow-up, daytime napping (sometimes/usually vs rarely/never) was associated with slightly increased risks of breast cancer (RR=1.10, 95% CI 1.06-1.15) and of other cancers (RR=1.12, 1.08-1.15), but the RRs decreased significantly with increasing follow-up time (P=0.001 and P=0.01, respectively, for trend). Four or more years after baseline, there was no elevated risk of breast cancer (RR=1.00, 0.96-1.05), and only marginally greater risk of other cancers (RR=1.04, 1.01-1.07). CONCLUSION: The effect of pre-clinical disease is a likely explanation for the short-term increased risk of breast and other cancers associated with daytime napping.

Original publication




Journal article


Br J Cancer

Publication Date





527 - 530


Breast Neoplasms, Cohort Studies, Female, Follow-Up Studies, Great Britain, Humans, Middle Aged, Neoplasms, Prospective Studies, Risk, Risk Factors, Sleep Wake Disorders