According to a new study, people who snore may have an increased risk of cancer.
Obstructive sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that affects millions of Americans each year; presenting as loud snoring, gasping, and daytime sleepiness.
Symptoms are due to obstruction in people’s airways while they sleep, making it difficult for people to breathe throughout the night. Although annoying for those who suffer from it – and for those who share living spaces – researchers believe it could be an indication of cancer.
People who are overweight or obese, have diabetes, smoke or consume large amounts of alcohol are most at risk, according to the study, which was presented at medical conference in Barcelona on Monday. Swedish experts said snoring may have something to do with the lack of oxygen snorers get during the night.
In the United States, about 30 million people have sleep apnea, but only 6 million are diagnosed with the condition, according to the American Medical Association.
Data from 62,811 patients – five years before starting treatment for the disease – in Sweden were examined. People with a severe case of the disease have been found to be at higher risk of developing blood clots in their veins – a life-threatening condition.
Dr Andreas Palm, senior researcher and consultant at Uppsala University, Sweden, said OSA patients were already known to have an increased risk of cancer.
“But it’s unclear whether or not this is due to OSA itself or to cancer-related risk factors, such as obesity, cardiometabolic disease and lifestyle factors.” , he explained in the newspaper. Monday press release. “Our results show that oxygen deprivation due to OSA is independently associated with cancer.”
The researchers classified the patients into two groups. One cohort was 2,093 patients who had the disorder and were diagnosed with cancer before there was a diagnosis of OSA. The control group had the disorder but no cancer, according to the study.
The study measured the number of breathing disturbances patients experienced while sleeping and scored them on the Apnea-Hypopnea Index (AHI).
They also looked at how often blood oxygen levels dropped by 3% for at least 10 seconds per hour – the oxygen desaturation index (ODI).
According to the findings – with the researchers also taking into account factors such as body size, other health conditions and socioeconomic status – cancer patients generally had more interruptions during sleep and more severe OSA. .
“[These patients] measured by an average apnea-hypopnea index of 32 versus 30 and an oxygen desaturation index of 28 versus 26,” Palm said. “In further subgroup analysis, ODI was higher in patients with lung cancer (38 vs 27), prostate cancer (28 vs 24) and malignant melanoma (32 vs 25) .”
However, the researchers said the study cannot show that OSA causes cancer – only that it is associated with it – with lifestyle factors such as physical activity and dietary preferences not being not fully taken into account in the study.
The research team plans further research with an increased number of patients and to follow them over time.
“The association between OSA and cancer is less well established than the link with heart and blood vessel disease, insulin resistance, diabetes, and fatty liver disease,” Palm said. “Therefore, more research is needed, and we hope our study will encourage other researchers to research this important topic.”