The circadian clock is a master regulator of mammalian physiology, regulating daily oscillations of crucial biological processes and behaviors. Notably, circadian disruption has recently been identified as an independent risk factor for cancer and classified as a carcinogen. As such, it is imperative to discern the underpinning mechanisms by which circadian disruption alters cancer risk. Emergent data, reviewed herein, demonstrate that circadian regulatory functions play critical roles in several hallmarks of cancer, including control of cell proliferation, cell death, DNA repair, and metabolic alteration. Developing a deeper understanding of circadian-cancer regulation cross-talk holds promise for developing new strategies for cancer interception, prevention, and management.
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