When you eat is just as important as what you eat and can have just as big an impact on your health, say researchers from the Barcelona Institute for Global Health.
It's all to do with the way our body metabolizes food, and it seems to need enough time while we're up and around to do this efficiently. People who eat their last meal before 9pm are, on average, 20 per cent less likely to develop breast or prostate cancer than people who eat after 10pm.
But how ever late you eat, waiting two hours to fully digest the food before going to bed seems to have a similar protective effect compared to someone who goes to bed immediately after eating a late meal.
The researchers compared the lifestyles and eating habits of 621 people suffering from prostate cancer and 1,205 breast cancer patients and compared them to 872 male and 1,321 female healthy controls.
Mealtime habits should be factored into advice on cancer prevention, the researchers say. "The impact could be especially important in cultures such as those of southern Europe where people have supper late," said lead researcher Manolis Kogevinas.