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Does sleep apnea increase colorectal cancer risk?

Category: Colon

Thanks to modern technology, lab tests can now detect cancer at earlier stages than ever before. While blood tests allow for doctors to diagnose cancer earlier, it's important for people to not only get regular lab tests, but also do everything they can to avoid developing cancer in the first place. According to recent research from Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital, individuals who are concerned about their colorectal cancer risk may want to monitor their sleeping habits.

The scientists discovered that overweight individuals or those who snored regularly and reported sleeping 9 hours or more each night had an increased risk of colorectal cancer than individuals who slept less.

Is it sleep apnea?
According to the researchers, these findings suggest that obstructive sleep apnea may increase the risk of colorectal cancer. The scientists explained that overweight individuals and those who snore regularly were found to be the most likely to report that they slept for nine or more hours, and they had the highest cancer risk. People who snore and those that are overweight also have the highest risk of developing OSA, and past research has suggested that this condition may promote tumor growth. Furthermore, OSA may explain why these people slept more, since this condition causes a person to have disrupted, shallow sleep, so they may tend to spend more hours in bed as a result of fatigue.

"Our current study adds to the very limited literature regarding the relationship between sleep duration and/or sleep quality and colorectal cancer risk," said lead author Xuehong Zhang, M.D. "The novel observation of increased risk among regular snorers who sleep long raises the possibility that sleep apnea and its attendant intermittent hypoxemia may contribute to cancer risk."

How can you tell?
These findings should encourage people to look out for the signs of OSA, so they can get it treated and improve their sleep quality before it potentially affects their health. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute states that OSA often goes undiagnosed because people assume that they just have a minor snoring problem. However, research has suggested that this condition may also have repercussions for the heart and other parts of the body, and should not be taken lightly.

People who snore should talk to their doctor{s} about getting into a sleep study where professionals can observe them to determine if they have OSA. Furthermore, being overweight is a major risk factor for developing this condition, so overweight individuals who feel fatigued throughout the day should also talk to their doctor.

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