Episode 29: Sleep and Cancer 2

Sleep and work patterns can impact on cancer risk as well as the response to cancer treatments. In this episode we talk to Assistant Professor Peter James from Harvard Medical School about his paper on cancer risk and night-time light exposure and discuss previous research on nurses working night shift showing an increased risk of breast cancer. We also introduce the field of chronotherapeutics, matching individual circadian rhythms to drug dosing to optimise outcomes and minimise side effects.

Dr Moira Junge (Health Psychologist) and Dr David Cunnington (Sleep Physician) host the monthly podcast, Sleep Talk, talking all things sleep.

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Audio Timeline:

  • 00:00 – 00:37 Introduction
  • 00:37 – 03:55 What’s news in sleep?
    • Golden Door – Guest Speaker
    • Poor sleep and Alzheimer’s risk
  • 03:55 -23:43 Theme – Sleep and Cancer
    • 03:55 – 04:18 Introduction
    • 04:18 – 07:12 Cancer risk in shift workers
    • 07:12 – 19:55 Interview – Peter James – night time light exposure and cancer risk in shift workers
    • 19:55 – 23:30 Chronotherapeutics
    • 23:30 – 23:43 More information in sleep in cancer
  • 23:43 – 25:17 Clinical tip: Coping with shift work
  • 25:17 – 28:54 Pick of the month:
    • 25:17 – 27:34 David – Chronotype and mortality
    • 27:34 – 28:54 Moira – Headspace and Smiling Mind apps
  • 28:54 – 30:46 What’s coming up in sleep?

Next episode: Traumatic Brain Injury 

Links mentioned in the podcast: 


Guest interviews:

Peter James Assistant Professor Peter James trained in environmental health and epidemiology, Peter has focused his research on estimating the influence of geographic contextual factors, including exposure to nature, the built environment, the food environment, air pollution, light pollution, noise, and socioeconomic factors, on health behaviors and chronic disease. He has almost a decade of experience working with large prospective cohort studies, including the Nurses’ Health Studies, the Framingham Heart Study, and the Southern Community Cohort Study, where he has aided in the creation of many geographic-based variables and linked them to health data. More recently, he is developing methodologies to assess real-time, high spatio-temporal resolution objective measures of location and behavior by linking smartphone-based global positioning systems (GPS) and wearable device accelerometry data to understand how contextual factors influence health behaviors.

Regular hosts:

Dr Moira JungeDr Moira Junge is a health psychologist working in the sleep field, who has considerable experience working with people with sleeping difficulties in a multidisciplinary practice using a team-based approach. Moira has consulted at Melbourne Sleep Disorders Centre since 2008, and is actively involved with the Australasian Sleep Association (ASA). She has presented numerous workshops for psychologists wanting to learn more about sleep disorders, and is involved with Monash University with teaching and supervision commitments, as well as clinical involvement with the Monash University Healthy Sleep Clinic. She is one of the clinic directors at Yarraville Health Group which was established in 1998. In addition to her expertise in sleep disorders, her other areas of interest and expertise include smoking cessation, psychological adjustment to chronic illness, and grief and loss issues.

Dr David CunningtonDr David Cunnington is a sleep physician and director of Melbourne Sleep Disorders Centre, and co-founder and contributor to SleepHub. David trained in sleep medicine both in Australia and in the United States, at Harvard Medical School, and is certified as both an International Sleep Medicine Specialist and International Behavioural Sleep Medicine Specialist. David’s clinical practice covers all areas of sleep medicine and he is actively involved in training health professionals in sleep. David is a regular media commentator on sleep, both in traditional media and social media, and blogs for the Huffington Post on sleep. David’s recent research has been in the area of non-drug, psychologically-based treatments such as cognitive behavioral therapy and mindfulness in managing insomnia, restless legs syndrome and other sleep disorders.

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At Sleephub we understand the struggle people endure with sleeping problems which is why we have created a comprehensive FAQs page with information for those seeking information about sleep disorders and potential solutions.

Check our resources or take our Sleep Wellness Quiz for a free assessment of elements that may be keeping you from a good night’s sleep.


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  • Ellen Scott

    Few years ago, I read about the relationship between sleep and cancer. Thanks for your podcast, you give me more detail informations about this.

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