Sleep Apnea Causes Increased Risk of CANCER!! By Paul Fulmer, MD

Two recent studies, (http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/05/20/sleep-apnea-tied-to-increased-cancer-risk,) have shown that there is an association between significant sleep disordered breathing and cancer. Those patients with severe sleep apnea were observed to have almost a 5X increased risk of developing cancer.

Approximately 28 million Americans have Sleep Apnea. There has already been proven an association between sleep apnea and increasing your risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes and obesity. Now to add an increased risk of CANCER!! This is BIG!!

The first study was conducted in Spain in which they followed 5,200 people over 7 years and noticed a 65% increased risk of developing cancer in those patients with the most severe forms of sleep apnea. Likewise a study done following 1500 public workers in Wisconsin showed that those having severe sleep disordered breathing had a 5X increased risk of developing cancer. Both studies took into account other risk factors for cancer and the association remained.

The prevailing reasoning is that as the body is deprived of oxygen it begins to develop more blood vessels to compensate. This in turn acts almost like fertilizer to the cancer cells causing them to flourish.

Neither study looked at what treatment of sleep apnea did to the risk of developing cancer. However, this is the next step! Does using CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) or other treatments such as the Pillar procedure actually reduce your risk of developing cancer? Physiologically it makes since. If you increase the amount of oxygen being delivered to the body by improving the airflow, then the body doesn’t have to compensate by increasing the number of blood vessels and subsequently it doesn’t increase its supply to the cancer cells.

More research is needed to see what the impact of treatment of apnea will have on survival. But this shows the importance that sleep apnea and sleep disordered breathing can have on a person’s health. Not breathing at night is a SERIOUS PROBLEM!!

If you or a loved one is having difficulty sleeping, snoring, or possibly developing sleep apnea, then give us a call at 855 DR SNORE and get this checked out. Your health is at stake!!

 

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