According to a recent study published in the International Journal of Cancer, you should finish eating dinner before 9 p.m. Eating too late in the evening or too close to bedtime increases the risk of cancer. Here’s what the study found.

Late-Night Food Fuels Cancer

The study found that people who ate dinner before 9 p.m., or at least two hours before bed, had a 20% lower risk of prostate and breast cancer than individuals who ate after 10 p.m. or shortly before bed. Researchers aren’t sure why the connection exists.

According to Dr. Manolis Kogevina, a research professor at the Barcelona Institute for Global Health in Spain and lead author, “What we know from experimental studies is that we are conditioned to function in different parts of the day. We—not only humans but all living organisms—have developed throughout time functioning differently in day and night.”

The Results Are In

1,826 cancer patients and 2,193 healthy patients took part in the study. Participants completed questionnaires about their eating and sleeping habits, alcohol consumption, and other relevant health habits.

The results of the study are consistent with previous research. According to Catherine Marinac—a research fellow at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute who was not involved in the study—eating according to the body’s circadian rhythm helps reduce the risk of breast cancer recurrence.

If You Have To Eat Late, Eat This

Sometimes a midnight snack is unavoidable. Late nights happen, and when they do, it’s best to eat healthy. Your body isn’t primed for digestion late at night. Be easy on it with leafy greens. Avoid greasy protein and processed sugar as well.

If you’re sweet tooth calls, eat a couple of teaspoons of raw honey. Raw honey is an ideal fuel source for the brain to conduct its nightly repair processes. If you’re a night owl with a family history of prostate or breast cancer, it may be time to start eating earlier in the day, and eating healthier at night.