It is recognized that untreated sleep apnea increases the risk for heart attack, stroke and diabetes. A new study finds that untreated sleep apnea can make a person five times more likely to die from cancer. In the reported study, 1,522 people were followed over a 22 year period and had a diagnostic sleep study or (polysomnography) performed every four years. The researchers determined, after accounting for other risk factors, that people with severe sleep apnea were 4.8 times more likely to die from cancer. Inadequate oxygen, which commonly occurs in people with sleep apnea, has been shown to increase tumor growth in mice. The association between sleep apnea and cancer was stronger among non-obese subjects, compared to obese subjects.
About 28 million Americans have sleep apnea. Many of these cases go undetected. If you or your bed partner have noticed snoring, pauses in breathing and/or gasps for breaths, please call the Sleep Institute of New England to set up an appointment today. 603-347-8810