The relationship between sleep disordered breathing and cardiovascular risk is well documented. Now two observational studies are suggesting a strong link with increased risk of cancer. The new research marks the first time that sleep apnoea has been linked to cancer in humans.
The researchers ruled out the possibility that the usual risk factors for cancer, like age, smoking, alcohol use, physical activity and weight, could have played a role. The association between cancer and disordered breathing at night remained even after they adjusted these and other variables. Neither study specifically looked at the impact of treatment for apnoea on survival although in the Wisconsin study the cancer association was stronger after people who were being treated with CPAP were removed from the analysis.
Source NYT: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/05/20/sleep-apnea-tied-to-increased-cancer-risk/
Wisconsin study abstract: http://www.atsjournals.org/doi/abs/10.1164/rccm.201201-0130OC#.VuUOupx96Ul
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(Tuesday, May 25, 2012)