If you have sleep apnea, you’re more likely to die from cancer, not to mention other causes of death.
In addition to a higher risk of death from cancer, sleep apnea is linked to heart disease, high blood pressure, depression, and just an earlier mortality in general.
Sleep Apnea and Cancer Connection
The University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health announced results in 2012 of a study that ties sleep apnea to death caused by cancer.
• Sleep apnea is associated with a five times higher incidence of cancer mortality.
• The lead study author is Dr. F. Javier Nieto.
• Previous studies on animals have yielded similar findings.
• The precise mechanism behind the link is not known.
In the report, Dr. Nieto points out that the correlation is definitely there, but the causal relationship has not been established.
Researchers “are a long way from proving that sleep apnea causes cancer or contributes to its growth,” says Dr. Nieto in the report.
Sleep apnea causes an oxygen shortage to cells. However, this oxygen shortage, which is intermittent, encourages the growth of blood vessels that fuel tumors.
• The 22-year death rate of more than 1,500 people was analyzed.
• The data came from the Wisconsin Sleep Cohort.
• The study participants underwent overnight monitoring that was capable of detecting disorded breathing during sleep.
• The monitoring was done at four-year intervals.
• Factors such as gender, age, BMI and smoking were adjusted for.
The analysis, come the end of the 22 years, showed that cancer death was five times higher in participants for whom the overnight monitoring showed disordered breathing.
However, subjects who had to use a CPAP machine while sleeping (which provides continuous airway pressure for those already diagnosed with sleep apnea) were excluded from the study.
• Is death from cancer also caused by something that leads to sleep apnea?
• Does sleep apnea cause changes in the body that lead to cancer? But if so, this doesn’t explain the five-times increased risk of mortality.
• Does the lifestyle that leads to obstructive sleep apnea also promote the development of cancer?