KUALA LUMPUR, August 19 — A recent study has discovered that women with intense sleep apnea have an increased risk of developing cancer. The link is related to nocturnal hypoxia and elevated risk of developing cancer.
Published in the European Respiratory Journal, the study is analysis 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 per cent of them also had a cancer diagnosis.
“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,” said Ludger Grote, Adjunct Professor and chief physician in sleep medicine, and the last author of the current study.
“Our results indicate a cancer risk that’s elevated two- to three-fold among women with pronounced sleep apnea. It’s impossible to say for sure what causes underlie the association between sleep apnea and cancer, but the indication means we need to study it in more depth,” he said.
Adjusting the data for age, gender, body mass index (BMI), smoking, and alcohol consumption, a possible link between intermittent hypoxia at night and higher cancer prevalence was observed. It also implied that women were more susceptible to this condition than men.
“The condition of sleep apnea is well known to the general public and associated with snoring, daytime fatigue, and elevated risk of cardiovascular disease, especially in men. Our research paves the way for a new view — that sleep apnea may possibly be connected with increased cancer risk, especially in women,” said Grote.