Cancer is among the leading causes of death in the United States. While some cases of cancer occur due to unchangeable circumstances, such as genetics, other cases are the result of modifiable risk factors. Research suggests that obstructive sleep apnea may be one such risk factor, particularly in women. Let’s take a look at the relationship between these serious conditions.
Higher Rates of Cancer of Cancer in Women with Sleep Apnea
A study conducted in 2019 examined data from almost 20,000 adults who had been diagnosed with sleep apnea. It was found that 2% of the patients had been diagnosed with a form of cancer. It is noteworthy that while cancer occurred in just 1.7% of the men, it afflicted 2.8% of the women. This indicates that sleep apnea may be a more serious risk factor for females than for males.
Does Sleep Apnea Cause Cancer?
While there is a clear association between sleep apnea and cancer in women, there is not enough evidence to definitively say that the apnea actually causes the cancer. The correlation between the two conditions might simply be due to common risk factors, such as carrying excess body weight or smoking cigarettes.
Of course, some researchers do believe that sleep apnea can have a direct effect on cancer risk. It is possible that the oxygen deprivation and disturbed sleep patterns cause by sleep apnea can adversely affect the well-being of tissues throughout the body, thus contributing to the development of tumors. The risk might be higher in women due to the differing hormonal makeup of the sexes.
What You Can Do
Regardless of whether there is a causal relationship between cancer and sleep apnea, any efforts you make to enjoy high-quality rest are certainly worth it! Even if doing so will not significantly affect your cancer risk, it may improve your quality of life now and provide you with significant health benefits, such as improved blood pressure control and a lower risk of heart attack.
Here are a few tips to help you sleep better:
- If you are experiencing symptoms of sleep apnea but have not yet been diagnosed, talk to a professional about undergoing a sleep test.
- Do your best to manage other factors that might affect the quality of your sleep, such as mental health conditions, excess body weight, or the hormonal changes of menopause.
- Practice good sleep hygiene. You should try to go to bed at the same time at each night, invest in a comfortable mattress, and remove as many allergens from your bedroom as possible.
Cancer is just one of the devastating consequences that might arise as a result of sleep apnea. Doing all you can to get enough high-quality rest could save your life!
Meet the Practice
Dr. Mitch Conditt is a dentist who focuses primarily on helping patients cope with sleep apnea and TMJ disorder. He personally knows what it is like to fight obstructive sleep apnea and has great empathy for his patients. If you would like to learn more about treatments that could improve the quality of your sleep, he and our team would be happy to speak with you. Contact our office at 817-527-8500.