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Kristin Hayes, R.N.

Add Cancer to the Growing List of Health Problems Associated With Sleep Apnea

By May 30, 2012

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A study from the University of Wisconsin showing that sleep apnea increases the risk of cancer mortality has just been released. The study shows that people with sleep apnea have 5 times the risk of dying from cancer than individuals who do not have sleep apnea.

"Clearly, there is a correlation, and we are a long way from proving that sleep apnea causes cancer or contributes to its growth," Nieto, an expert in sleep epidemiology states in an article in Newswise. "But animal studies have shown that the intermittent hypoxia (an inadequate supply of oxygen) that characterizes sleep apnea promotes angiogenesis--increased vascular growth--and tumor growth. Our results suggest that SDB is also associated with an increased risk of cancer mortality in humans."

My first thought, when I read this headline, was that the increased cancer mortality rate was just a manifestation of other evidence which shows that obesity is linked to both cancer and sleep disordered breathing. However, researchers adjusted for this risk factor as well as age, and smoking status. The results of the study suggest that hypoxia, the lack of oxygen, to cancer cells actually somehow aids in the growth of cancer cells. For more information on sleep apnea and health related problems read:

What is Sleep Apnea

Can My Child Have Sleep Apnea?

The Effects of Sleep Apnea on Diabetes

Sleep Apnea Contributes to Dementia in Older Women

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