A new study warns women with obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) have an increased risk of developing cancer. However, the same is not true for men.
A team from Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece conducted the research. For the study, researchers examined the data of 19,000 people to determine whether or not there is a link between cancer and sleep apnea. Researchers made note of how often participants exhibited partial or complete airways closure during every hour of sleep. They also took into account the number of times blood oxygen levels dropped below 90 per cent in volunteers.
Through their research, they discovered that the risk of cancer is high for women with sleep apnea. The results were the same even when other factors like high BMI and smoking were taken into consideration. Data from the study showed that 388 people were diagnosed with cancer. In the group, 160 women, that is 2.8 per cent of the total women, were diagnosed with the disease. Meanwhile, 228 men, which is 1.7 per cent of all men in the group, were found to have developed the disease. Researchers believe low levels of oxygen in the blood may be the reason why these participants were diagnosed with having cancer.
"This area of research is very new. And the effects of gender on the link between OSA and cancer have not been studied in detail before," co-author of the study, Dr Athanasia Pataka, told a news portal. Adding, "Our study of more than 19,000 people shows that severity of OSA is linked to a cancer diagnosis. This link was especially strong in the women that we analysed, and less so in the men."
However, some experts claim the recent findings is no cause for alarm. "In this study, the overall cancer prevalence was low at just two per cent, therefore OSA patients should not be alarmed by this research," Professor Anita Simonds, consultant in respiratory and sleep medicine at Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Foundation Trust, told a news portal.
Further research is needed to fully understand the link between the two. The study's findings were originally published in the European Respiratory Journal.
Obstructive sleep apnoea occurs when the airways narrow while you are sleeping. This causes a major disruption to your normal breathing. Snoring and fatigue are some of the symptoms of the sleep disorder. Millions of people around the world are affected by the condition. It could also result in serious health issues like type 2 diabetes, heart attack and stroke.
The symptoms of obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) are different for men and women. Women with sleep apnea are more likely to experience insomnia, depression, fatigue and headaches in the morning. Meanwhile, men with the condition tend to snore, feel sleepy and may even stop breathing while sleeping at night. Making a lifestyle change can combat sleep apnea. This is because alcohol consumption, smoking and being overweight are major contributing factors.