Circadian disruption and breast cancer: An epigenetic link?

David Z. Kochan _ and Olga Kovalchuk

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Oncotarget. 2015; 6:16866-16882. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.4343

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David Z. Kochan1, Olga Kovalchuk1

1Department of Biological Sciences, University of Lethbridge, Lethbridge, AB, Canada

Correspondence to:

Olga Kovalchuk, e-mail: [email protected]

Keywords: breast cancer, circadian disruption (CD), epigenetics, circadian rhythms, melatonin (MLT)

Received: March 11, 2015     Accepted: June 26, 2015     Published: July 09, 2015


Breast cancer is already the most common malignancy affecting women worldwide, and evidence is mounting that breast cancer induced by circadian disruption (CD) is a warranted concern. Numerous studies have investigated various aspects of the circadian clock in relation to breast cancer, and evidence from these studies indicates that melatonin and the core clock genes can play a crucial role in breast cancer development. Even though epigenetics has been increasingly recognized as a key player in the etiology of breast cancer and linked to circadian rhythms, and there is evidence of overlap between epigenetic deregulation and breast cancer induced by circadian disruption, only a handful of studies have directly investigated the role of epigenetics in CD-induced breast cancer. This review explores the circadian clock and breast cancer, and the growing role of epigenetics in breast cancer development and circadian rhythms. We also summarize the current knowledge and next steps for the investigation of the epigenetic link in CD-induced breast cancer.

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