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Sleep Apnea Increases Cancer Risk Five-Fold

Monday, 21 May 2012 11:37 AM


People suffering from sleep apnea have a dramatically higher risk of cancer, according to a new study.
Researchers at the University of Wisconsin found that people with sleep-disordered breathing are almost five times more likely to die of cancer than those who don’t have interrupted breathing during sleep.
“This is really big news,” Dr. Joseph Golish, a professor of sleep medicine with the MetroHealth System in Cleveland, told the New York Times. “It’s the first time this has been shown, and it looks like a very solid association.”
While previous studies have associated apnea with increased risks of hypertension, cardiovascular disease, depression, and early death, this is the first human study to link apnea with higher rate of cancer mortality.
Sleep apnea is characterized by loud snoring and interrupted breathing.
Researchers found that the more severe a person’s breathing problems during sleep, the higher the risk of cancer death. People with moderate apnea were found to die of cancer at double the normal rate. Those with severe nighttime breathing problems had a risk 4.8 times greater than those without the sleep disorder.
Lead author Dr. F. Javier Nieto, chair of the Department of Population Health Sciences at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health, said of the findings: “That is really striking. It’s hard to imagine that something we didn’t control for is causing this.”
An estimated 18 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea, however most people with the condition go undiagnosed. Standard treatment is use of a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine, which requires the wearing of a breathing mask during sleep. Surgery also can relieve the condition for some.

© HealthDay

 
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