Circadian clocks respond to environmental time cues to coordinate 24-hour oscillations in almost every tissue of the body. In the breast, circadian clocks regulate the rhythmic expression of numerous genes. Disrupted expression of circadian genes can alter breast biology and may promote cancer. Here we overview circadian mechanisms, and the connection between the molecular clock and breast biology. We describe how disruption of circadian genes contributes to cancer via multiple mechanisms, and link this to increased tumour risk in women who work irregular shift patterns. Understanding the influence of circadian rhythms on breast cancer could lead to more efficacious therapies, reformed public health policy and improved patient outcome.
- Journal Article