Jet Lag May Increase Your Risk of Liver Cancer


Jet lag isn’t just a tiresome inconvenience — researchers say it’s also extremely hazardous to your health because it can increase your chance of liver cancer. A study, published in the journal Cancer Cell, says that chronic jet lag disrupts the metabolic rhythms of the liver. This leads to dangerous buildups of fat and bile acids, which have been linked to cancer.

A trial with mice at Baylor College of Medicine used light to control and manipulate the sleeping patterns of the rodents. This simulated human body rhythm disruptions that regularly occur by crossing multiple time zones.

The results showed that the mice suffered from significant weight gain and developed fatty liver disease, which progressed to chronic inflammation and even liver cancer in some cases.

Flickr Image Courtesy: Edward Simpson, CC BY-SA 2.0
Flickr Image Courtesy: Edward Simpson, CC BY-SA 2.0

David Moore, professor of molecular and cellular biology, who led the study, said: “Liver cancer is on the rise worldwide and in human studies we’ve now seen that patients can progress from fatty liver diseases to liver cancer without any middle steps such as cirrhosis.”

The American Cancer Society reports that nearly 40,000 new cases of liver cancer were diagnosed in U.S. in 2016. Rates of the disease have nearly tripled since the 1980s.

What Is Jet Lag?

Jet lag symptoms appear as your body adapts to different light-dark schedules following a flight to a new time zone, disrupting your natural 24-hour circadian rhythms.

Circadian rhythms are the cycles of the physiological processes of human beings and other living things. They get disrupted when you cross time zones. Your body clock dictates your sleeping and waking hours, and it manages circadian rhythms that govern over appetite, digestion, bowel habits, urine production, body temperature and blood pressure.

Ways to Avoid Jet Lag

There are plenty of natural ways to combat jet lag and to help your body adjust to its new time zone. Check out these tips to stay healthy and to stave off jet lag.

  • Drink water instead of alcohol
  • Take regular breaks from your seat
  • Have a going to bed routine — brushing teeth, washing face, spreading out blanket, wearing eye masks
  • Before taking off, set your watch for the time of your new destination
  • Once arriving, stay awake until mid-evening local time — avoid napping as soon as you arrive, even if you’re tired after a long flight
  • Sleep and eat at the correct times for your new time zones
  • Spend as much time outdoors as possible. Natural daylight will help your body quickly adjust to a new routine after most flights.
Ronke Idowu Reeves

Ronke Idowu Reeves is a writer and journalist who hails from Brooklyn, NY. Her news and entertainment stories have appeared on WABC-TV-New York, Fox News Channel, VH1, plus in Sundance Film Festival’s Sundance Daily Insider and People Magazine.