Sleep Disorders Linked To Aggressive Cancer

Fri, Sep 07, 2012

Insufficient or poor quality sleep could increase the risk of breast cancer, or breast cancer recurrence, according to a new study by researchers from the University Hospitals Case Medical Center’s Seidman Cancer Center and the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center at Case Western Reserve University.

According to the study, getting less than six hours of sleep each night seemed to increase the risk of cancer recurring among post-menopausal breast cancer patients.  Increasing the duration and quality of sleep was considered an "...under appreciated avenue for reducing the risk of developing more aggressive breast cancers and recurrence," according to one of the study researchers, Dr Li, Ph.D. 

The study, covering 412 post-menopausal breast cancer patients, was published in the Journal Of Breast Cancer Research and Treatment.  All women were tested with Oncotype DX, which is used to predict whether or not cancer will recur. They were also surveyed about their sleep patterns for the past two years.

The research found a distinct relationship between a higher score on the Oncotype DX test and decreased sleep.

According to the report, the "lack of sufficient sleep may cause more aggressive tumors, but more research will need to be done to verify this finding and understand the causes of this association." 

Interestingly, the research did not find a link between aggressive breast cancer and pre-menopausal breast cancer patients.  This suggests that cancers among pre-menopausal women and post-menopausal women may work differently.


Another study, presented recently at the American Thoracic Society 2012 International Conference, also suggested a link between sleep problems and cancer risk. In that research, scientists at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health found a link between severe sleep disordered breathing conditions such as obstructive sleep apnea and a 500% higher risk of dying from cancer, compared with people without the sleep condition.

As always, sleep disordered breathing -- whether it's simple snoring or severe obstructive sleep apnoea -- should be treated, not tolerated.  Sleep disordered breathing conditions are extremely common, but they are not normal or healthy and so treatment should be sought at the earliest opportunity.

For more information about treatment and/or to arrange a diagnostic sleep study, contact us by calling 1300 246 637 or click on the button below to make an online booking or enquiry.