Obstructive Sleep Apnea occurs when muscles of the soft palate and throat relax during sleep, obstructing the airway and making breathing difficult and noisy (snoring). Eventually, the airway walls collapse blocking airflow entirely, which results in a breathing pause or apnea.
Does Poor Sleep Increase Risk for Cancer?
- Lack of good sleep doesn’t cause cancer, but new research shows good quality sleep can help your body fight cancer.
- Sleep disorders can alter two hormones which impact cancer: cortisol and melatonin.
- Active young women who slept less than 7 hours per night had a 47% higher risk of cancer than those who got more sleep.
- Short sleep was linked to increased risk of colorectal cancer.
- A link was found between non-respiratory sleep disorders and liver cancer.
Sleep Disorders in Cancer Patients
Cancer patients are more prone to sleep disorders, around 30-50% compared with 10-15% of the general population and this is due to:
- The disease itself
- Treatment and medications
- Generally higher stress levels
- Depression and anxiety
Sleep as a Possible Factor in Recovery
- More and better sleep can help improve pain tolerance.
- Increased physical activity in combination with adequate sleep time was linked to higher remission rates in ovarian cancer patients.
Sleep Apnea Associated with Increased Risk of Cancer Mortality
- Patients with severe OSA had 4.8 times higher risk of death related to cancer.
- Another study found severe OSA led to a 65% greater risk of developing any kind of cancer.
- Longer times spent with lower oxygen were associated with higher risk of cancer.
- Animal studies suggest low oxygen levels related to pauses in breathing can cause angiogenesis and tumor growth.
Detailed references available upon request.