Scientists from Uppsala University found that people who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) are at an increased risk of cancer.
A second study showed that OSA was also linked to a decline in processing powers in the elderly; in particular, those aged 74 years or more and men showed a steeper decline in certain cognitive tests.
A third study found that patients with more severe OSA were at greater risk of developing blood clots in their veins—a potentially life-threatening condition.
OSA is a common sleep disorder whereby people experience partial or complete obstruction of their airways during sleep and stop breathing several times a night.
This can manifest as loud snoring, gasping, choking, and daytime sleepiness. It is believed to affect at least 7-13% of the population.
People who are overweight or obese, have diabetes, or who smoke or consume large amounts of alcohol are most at risk of OSA.
In the first study, the team looked at data from 62,811 patients five years prior to the start of treatment for OSA in Sweden.
They found that patients with cancer had slightly more severe OSA.
In further analysis of subgroups, OSA symptom was higher in patients with lung cancer prostate cancer, and malignant melanoma.
The findings in this study highlight the need to consider untreated sleep apnea as a risk factor for cancer and for doctors to be aware of the possibility of cancer when treating patients with OSA.
In a second study, researchers showed that OSA was linked to a greater decline in mental processing powers over a period of five years.
A total of 358 participants took a sleep test to examine the presence and severity of OSA when they joined the studies.
The team found that OSA and, in particular, low oxygen levels during sleep due to OSA, were linked to a greater decline in global cognitive function, processing speed, executive function, and verbal memory.
They also found that people aged 74 and older and men were at higher risk of cognitive decline related to sleep apnea in some specific cognitive tests.
A third study showed that patients with more severe OSA were more likely to develop venous thromboembolism (VTE). Out of 7,355 patients followed over more than six years, 104 developed VTEs.
those who spent more than 6% of their night-time with levels of oxygen in their blood below 90% of normal had an almost two-fold risk of developing VTEs as compared to patients without oxygen deprivation/
Further studies are required to see whether adequate treatment for OSA, for instance with CPAP treatment, might reduce the risk of VTEs in patients with marked nocturnal oxygen deprivation.
If you care about sleep, please read studies about dinner time that can affect your blood sugar control, and this exercise can help you sleep better.
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The research was presented at the European Respiratory Society (ERS) International Congress and conducted by Dr. Andreas Palm et al.
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