Sleep apnoea linked with increased risk of cancer death

September 4, 2012

Sleep apnoea severity has been associated with increased cancer mortality in a new study.

The research, which will be presented today (Tuesday 4 September 2012) at the European Respiratory Society's (ERS) Annual Congress in Vienna, adds to evidence presented earlier this year highlighting a link between severe and .

Two further studies presented at the ERS Congress, also show evidence suggesting an increase in among apnoea patients and an association between the spread of cancer and sleep apnoea.

In the first study, over 5,600 patients from 7 different sleep clinics in Spain were analysed to investigate the link between sleep apnoea and .

The severity of sleep apnoea, was then measured, using an hypoxaemia index. This index measures the amount of time during the night that a person suffers from low levels of oxygen in the blood (less than 90% oxygen saturation).

The results showed that people with sleep apnoea who spent more than 14% of their sleep with levels of below 90% (usually severe sleep apnoea patients) had approximately double the relative risk of death due to cancer (odds ratio 1.94), than people without sleep apnoea. The results showed that this association was even higher in men and younger people.

People with sleep apnoea can be treated using continuous positive (CPAP) therapy, which generates a stream of air to keep the upper airways open during sleep. In the first study, patients who were not using this device consistently had an increased relative risk (odds ratio 2.56) of death from cancer.

Lead author, Dr Miguel Angel Martinez-Garcia from La Fe University Hospital in Valencia, Spain, said: "We found a significant increase in the relative risk of dying from cancer in people with sleep apnoea. This adds to evidence presented earlier this year that found for the first time a link between cancer and sleep apnoea mortality. Our research has only found an association between these disorders but this does not mean that sleep apnoea causes cancer.

Similar results were also found in the second study which showed an increase in all-type cancer incidence in people with severe sleep apnoea. The link was present even when factors such as age, sex, weight and other comorbidities of participants, were controlled for.

Lead author, Dr Francisco Campos-Rodriguez from Valme University Hospital in Seville, Spain, said: "Further studies are necessary to corroborate our results and analyse the role of CPAP treatment on this association. We hope the findings of our studies will encourage people to get their sleep apnoea diagnosed and treated early to help maintain a good quality of life."

In a third study, researchers used a mouse model of skin cancer (melanoma) to investigate tumour spread (metastasis) and whether this was associated with sleep apnoea.

The results showed that the spread of cancer was more abundant in mice that had been subjected to intermittent hypoxic air, with low levels of oxygen as in sleep apnoea, than those who breathed normal air during the experiment.

Lead author, Professor Ramon Farre from University of Barcelona in Spain, said: "The data from this study in animals strongly suggests a link between the spread of cancer and sleep apnoea. This provides strong evidence to encourage further study in this area to understand in more detail the links between sleep apneoa and cancer."

Explore further: Study finds high rates of sleep apnea in women

Related Stories

Study finds high rates of sleep apnea in women

August 15, 2012
New research has found high rates of sleep apnoea in women, despite the condition usually being regarded as a disorder predominantly of males.

Overactive bladder linked to sleep apnoea in women

September 3, 2012
Sleep apnoea in women has been linked to overactive bladder syndrome in a new study.

Low-energy diet can improve sleep disorder

June 2, 2011
Sufferers of the sleep disorder obstructive sleep apnoea could benefit from following a low energy diet to lose weight, finds research published in the British Medical Journal today.

Commercial drivers could be understating sleep apnoea symptoms for fear of losing their licence

August 26, 2012
People who drive commercial vehicles, such as buses, taxis, trucks and aeroplanes, could be incorrectly reporting their symptoms of sleep apnoea due to their fears of endangering their employment, according to a new study.

Stopping snoring cuts heart attack risk

August 3, 2011
Sleep apnoea patients who are successfully treated have lower blood fat levels and a reduced risk of heart attack than people who are left untreated, University of Sydney researchers have found.

Recommended for you

Remede system approved for sleep apnea

October 9, 2017
(HealthDay)—The Remede sleep system, an implanted device that treats central sleep apnea by activating a nerve that sends signals to the diaphragm to stimulate breathing, has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Inflammation may precede sleep apnea, could be treatment target

September 1, 2017
Inflammation is traditionally thought of as a symptom of sleep apnea, but it might actually precede the disorder, potentially opening the door for new ways to treat and predict sleep apnea, according to researchers.

More evidence: Untreated sleep apnea shown to raise metabolic and cardiovascular stress

August 31, 2017
Sleep apnea, left untreated for even a few days, can increase blood sugar and fat levels, stress hormones and blood pressure, according to a new study of sleeping subjects. A report of the study's findings, published in the ...

Sleep patterns contribute to racial differences in disease risk

August 18, 2017
Poor sleep patterns could explain, in part, the differences in the risk of cardiometabolic disease between African-Americans and European-Americans, according to a new study published in Proceedings of the National Academy ...

Concerns that sleep apnea could impact healthspan

July 27, 2017
The number of people with obstructive sleep apnea has steadily increased over the past two decades. The disorder, which causes a person to briefly stop breathing when asleep, affects over 100 million people globally and is ...

Anti-nausea drug could help treat sleep apnea

June 6, 2017
An old pharmaceutical product may be a new treatment for obstructive sleep apnea, according to new research presented today by University of Illinois at Chicago and Northwestern University scientists at the SLEEP 2017 annual ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.