Sleep apnea may not only keep your partner awake while you snore, but new studies now show it may also increase a person’s chance of getting cancer, and make a person about five times more likely to die from cancer.
Sleep apnea is a common disorder that results in loud snoring, sleepiness during the day and long pauses in breathing at night. About 28 million Americans have sleep apnea, but many cases aren’t diagnosed, according to a New York Times article. In the past, sleep apnea has also been linked to cardiovascular disease, obesity and diabetes.
During a recent sleep apnea study, researchers in Spain followed 5,200 patients at sleep clinics for 7 years. None of them had cancer when the study began. They found the greater the oxygen depletion during sleep, the more likely the person would be diagnosed with cancer during the study. Those with the most severe form of apnea had a 65 percent higher risk of developing any type of cancer.
Another study was conducted in Wisconsin with 1,500 government workers. The researchers found that the more severe a person’s sleep apnea, the greater the chance of dying from cancer. Those with moderate apnea died of cancer at a rate double that of those without it, and those with severe apnea died at a rate 4.8 times that of those without nighttime breathing problems.
Recent animal studies also show this link between sleep apnea and cancer. Mice with tumors were placed in an environment that mimics the effects of sleep apnea. Scientists saw that the mice’s cancers progressed more rapidly. Scientists believe that lessening the mice’s oxygen intake may cause their bodies to create more blood vessels to compensate, which grow cancer tissue and tumors more quickly.
Researchers assume that sleep apnea treatments such as CPAP, or the sleep apnea dental treatment offered at A Beautiful Smile at Lake Pointe, may reduce sleep apnea’s association with cancer.