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Sleep Apnea Linked to Increased Risk of Cancer

Update Date: Sep 04, 2012 02:27 PM EDT

Obstructive sleep apnea is a common disorder in which you have one or more pauses in breathing or shallow breaths while you sleep. Particularly common in people who are overweight, sleep apnea can affect anyone with size-irregular respiratory appendages and is usually medically undetectable.

Two studies presented at the European Respiratory Society's Annual Congress in Vienna adds to previous evidence presented earlier this year that indicates a link between severe sleep apnea and cancer.

The study's results showed that people with sleep apnea who spent more than 14 percent of their sleep with levels of oxygen saturation below 90 percent, associated with severe sleep apnea, had approximately double the relative risk of death due to cancer, than people without sleep apnea.

Results further suggest that this risk is higher among male and younger groups.

Lead author, Dr Miguel Angel Martinez-Garcia from La Fe University Hospital in Valencia, Spain, summarizes:

"We found a significant increase in the relative risk of dying from cancer in people with sleep apnea. This adds to evidence presented earlier this year that found for the first time a link between cancer and sleep apnea mortality. Our research has only found an association between these disorders but this does not mean that sleep apnea causes cancer."

An increase in all-type cancer incidence in people with severe sleep were prevalent even when factors such as age, sex, weight and other comorbidities of participants were considered.

The study also showed that the spread of cancer and sleep apnea are closely correlated. Lead author, Professor Ramon Farre from University of Barcelona in Spain, explains that the evidence "provides strong evidence to encourage further study in this area to understand in more detail the links between sleep apneoa and cancer."

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