Can skipping breakfast cause cancer? Experts on adverse effects of not having morning meal


People who habitually skip breakfast are more at risk of certain types of cancer than those who eat their morning meal regularly. As per a new study, compared with daily breakfast eaters, those who reported not eating their morning meal had excess risks for oesophageal cancer, colorectal cancer, liver cancer and gallbladder and extrahepatic bile duct cancer. Not eating breakfast can lead to impaired glucose metabolism, chronic inflammation, obesity, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. In this prospective cohort study, Chinese researchers examined associations between breakfast frequency and risk for gastrointestinal (GI) cancer among 63,000 adults without known cancer at baseline. (Also read: Worst morning foods: 5 breakfast items you should never start your day with)

One should consume 6 short and frequent meals in a day, which includes 3 major meals and 3 minor meals. (Freepik)

Dietitian Shweta Gupta, Unit Head- Dietetics, Fortis Hospital Shalimar Bagh says skipping breakfast can increase risk of gastrointestinal cancer as it impairs glucose metabolism, causes chronic inflammation and can lead to advancement of tumors through processes like oxidations and gene mutation, altered microbiome, risk of esophageal cancers, colorectal cancers, and stomach cancers.

“Consuming food is not only important as it provides energy and nutrients to human body, but it also affects our metabolism, emotions and risk factors of many of the lifestyle induced diseases etc. One should consume 6 short and frequent meals in a day, which includes 3 major meals and 3 minor meals. This will help to maintain and control appetite, prevent hunger pangs also boost metabolism,” says Prachi Jain, Chief Clinical Nutritionist, CK Birla Hospital (Gurugram).


Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. If skipped habitually it has many adverse effects as explained by Dietitian Shweta Gupta:

• Drop in the levels of blood glucose: By ignoring your morning meal, you will end up feeling fatigued and irritable, and low energy levels. You may also suffer from headaches and migraine. It can also eventually lead to type 2 diabetes.

• Metabolism slows down: Body begins to store as many calories as it can in order to prepare for a potential emergency.

• Increase in the level of stress hormone: Skipping breakfast can have negative effect on cortisol levels, the primary stress hormone.

• Encourages weight gain: Skipping breakfast can make you overindulge in food in daytime and you tend to consume more calories, saturated fats, simple sugars and carbohydrates.

• Increased risk of heart diseases: Skipping breakfast can increase susceptibility to hypertension, high cholesterol levels leading to clogging the arteries.

• Can triggers hair loss.

• Affects cognitive functions: One may struggle to focus or concentrate because of low glucose levels in the brain.

• Skipping breakfast can destroy the immune cells and hamper the immune system.

• It can cause indigestion like bloating, gastritis, or acidity.

“Breakfast is the first meal of the day after post dinner voluntary fasting of at least 10- 12 hrs. that’s why consuming healthy protein rich breakfast is required which furthers helps to prevent dip in metabolism (low metabolism in which our body starts conserving energy for normal body functions) which further leads to weight gain and can turn into obesity because it is seen that those who skips breakfast such people tends to choose unhealthy ready to eat food , leads to over eating,” says Jain.


Shweta Gupta says that eating breakfast is important to boost brainpower, metabolism and also supply the body with essential nutrients.

• Eating breakfast can help to restore glycogen and stablies the level of insulin. Replenish the supply of glucose to boost energy levels, alertness.

• It provides essential nutrients required for good health.

• Eating breakfast boosts brainpower as brain gets proper glucose and nutrients to function properly.

• Eating breakfast improves metabolism, encourages weight loss, decreases the risk of type 2 diabetes and other metabolic disorders

•By eating breakfast you can encourage your body to burn more calories through out the day.

• Eating breakfast has positive effect on cortisol, encourages good mood and happiness.

• Keeps heart healthy: Breakfast prevents obesity, decrease risk of hypertension, atherosclerosis and its further complications.


Long commutes and busy morning schedules mean don’t make time to sit down to breakfast before heading out for the day. Gupta suggests foods that you can make easily.

There are some foods that you can have:

• Fresh fruits and raw or soaked nuts

• Smoothies made from fresh fruits or vegetables, natural yogurt and milk.

• Boiled eggs or egg omelet

• Porridges with added vegetables and milk porridges

• Oatmeal with added milk, fruits and nuts and seeds

• Poha, upma, besan chilla, thepla, idli, vermicelli etc.


Gupta also shares other factors that can cause gastro cancer

• Infection in the stomach caused by a germ called helicobacter pylori.

• A diet high in salty, preservatives and smoked foods.

• A diet low in fruits and vegetables.

• Obesity

• Gastroesophageal reflux disease.

• Gastritis

• Smoking and alcohol.

• Family history of genetic syndromes

• History of stomach surgery

• Stomach polyps (non-cancerous growth on the lining of stomach)

• Pernicious anemia

•Common variable immune deficiency-immune system cant make enough antibodies.


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