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Sleep disorder associated with higher cancer death

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People with untreated sleep disordered breathing (SDB) are at a greater risk of dying from cancer than those who are not suffering from the chronic shuteye problem.

Sleep-Disordered breathing includes a group of disorders characterized by abnormalities of respiratory pattern (pauses in breathing) or the quantity of ventilation during sleep. Obstructive sleep apnea, the most common such disorder, is the periodic pausing of breathing during sleep that results in drops in oxygen levels in blood and causes nighttime snoring and sleepiness during the day.

Sleep-Disordered breathing has already been tied to higher risk of health conditions such as lack of concentration, accidents, obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke.

A new study of 22-year mortality data on 1,522 cancer deaths revealed that the common sleep problem may also be associated with higher mortality caused by malignant tumors.

“Recent in vitro and animal studies have shown that repeated episodes of hypoxia (an inadequate supply of oxygen) are associated with accelerated cancer progression,” said lead researcher Dr. F. Javier Nieto of the University of Wisconsin, US. “Our results are the first to suggest that SDB is also associated with an increased risk of cancer mortality in humans.”

Participants with mild sleep apnea were just 0.1 times more likely to die from cancer than those without the problem while moderate SDB doubled the chances of cancer death, according to the findings presented at the American Thoracic Society International Conference, in San Francisco.

Moreover, people with the most severe sleep apnea including 30 or more episodes of low or no oxygen in an hour of sleep had about five times the risk of cancer death compared to peers without SDB.

The researchers called for further studies to replicate their findings and to examine the relationships between sleep disordered breathing, obesity, and cancer mortality.


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