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Sleep Problems May Double Men's Risk of Developing Prostate Cancer

Update Date: May 07, 2013 01:39 PM EDT

It is universally known that inadequate amounts of sleep are bad for a person's health, ruining their concentration and attention and increasing the risk for chronic illnesses. A recent study added to the list prostate cancer. The study, performed by researchers at the University of Iceland, The Icelandic Cancer Society and Örebro University Hospital, found that men with poor sleep have double the risk of developing prostate cancer.

The study was conducted with 2,102 men in total, 755 of whom had no sleep problems. The researchers were not looking at men who slept late and rose early; instead, they wanted to look at men who had sleep disturbances, who could not fall asleep or had trouble staying asleep, according to NBC News. Of the 67- to 96-year-old men who were enrolled in the study, none of them had prostate cancer at the time of their enrollment.

In total, 14.4 percent of the men had severe or extremely severe sleep problems. Five years after the start of the study, 6.4 percent of the men were diagnosed with prostate cancer, Health Day reports.

After the researchers adjusted for age, they found that men with sleep problems were 1.6 to 2.1 times more likely to suffer from prostate cancer. That link was particularly strong for advanced prostate cancer, compared to overall prostate cancer. Men with very severe sleep problems had it the worst; they were three times more likely to suffer from advanced prostate cancer than men without sleep problems.

Researchers even ruled out the possibility that symptoms of prostate cancer or of an enlarged prostate were causing sleep problems. Even when researchers excluded from the results men who woke up frequently to use the restroom, the findings remained the same.

"Sleep problems are very common in modern society and can have adverse health consequences," study author Lara G. Sigurdardóttir, M.D., from the University of Iceland in Reykjavik, said in a statement. "Women with sleep disruption have consistently been reported to be at an increased risk for breast cancer, but less is known about the potential role of sleep problems in prostate cancer."

The study was published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

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