Washington: Sleep-disordered breathing (SDB), commonly known as sleep apnea, may increase risk of cancer mortality, a new study has revealed. While previous studies have associated SDB commonly known as Sleep Apnea with increased risks of hypertension, cardiovascular disease, depression, and early death, this is the first human study to link apnea with higher rate of cancer mortality. Lead author Dr. F. Javier Nieto, chair of the department of population health sciences at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health, said that the study showed a nearly five times higher incidence of cancer deaths in patients with severe SDB compared to those without the disorder, a result that echoes previous findings in animal studies. “Clearly, there is a correlation, and we are a long way from proving that sleep apnea causes cancer or contributes to its growth,” said Dr Nieto, an expert in sleep epidemiology. “But animal studies have shown that the intermittent hypoxia (an inadequate supply of oxygen) that characterizes sleep apnea promotes angiogenesis—increased vascular growth- and tumor growth. “Our results suggest that SDB is also associated with an increased risk of cancer mortality in humans.” The team of University of Wisconsin-Madison investigators conducted this research in collaboration with Dr. Ramon Farre, professor of physiology at University of Barcelona, Spain. In a separate study, Dr. Farre`s group showed that the effect of intermittent hypoxia on cancer growth is considerably stronger in lean mice than in obese mice.
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