Women with severe sleep apnea appear to be at an elevated risk of getting cancer, a study shows.
Women with severe sleep apnea appear to be at an elevated risk of getting cancer, a study shows. No causal relationship is demonstrated, but the link between nocturnal hypoxia in women and higher cancer risk is still clear.
“It’s reasonable to assume that sleep apnea is a risk factor for cancer, or that both conditions have common risk factors, such as overweight. On the other hand, it is less likely that cancer leads to sleep apnea,” notes Ludger Grote, Adjunct Professor and chief physician in sleep medicine, and the last author of the current study.
The research, published in the European Respiratory Journal, is based on analyses of registry data, collected in the European database ESADA, on a total of some 20,000 adult patients with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). About 2 percent of them also had a cancer diagnosis.
As expected, advanced age was associated with elevated cancer risk, but adjusting the data for age, gender, body mass index (BMI), smoking, and alcohol consumption nevertheless showed a possible link between intermittent hypoxia at night and higher cancer prevalence. The connection applied mainly to women, and was weaker in men.
Read more at University of Gothenburg
Image: Ludger Grote, Adjunct Professor of Pulmonary Medicine, specializing in sleep medicine, at Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, and at Sahlgrenska University Hospital. (Credit: Photo: Johan Wingborg/University of Gothenburg)