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1-min read

Women Suffering from Obstructive Sleep Apnoea at Greater Risk of Cancer: Study

Studies show that low blood oxygen levels during the night and disrupted sleep may play an important role in the biology of different types of cancers.

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Updated:May 21, 2019, 1:50 PM IST
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Women Suffering from Obstructive Sleep Apnoea at Greater Risk of Cancer: Study
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Women suffering from sleep apnoea and lowered blood oxygen levels at night are at greater risk of cancer compared to men, according to a new study.

“Recent studies have shown that low blood oxygen levels during the night and disrupted sleep, which are both common in obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA), may play an important role in the biology of different types of cancers,” Dr Athanasia Pataka said, according to a report in The Sun.

“But 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.”

Dr Pataka’s team at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki looked at more than 19,000 people by recording their age, BMI, smoking status and alcohol consumption.

“They then recorded how often each volunteer experienced partial or complete closure of their airways, per hour of sleep, and how many times their blood oxygen levels dropped below 90 per cent,” according to The Sun.

Cancer was more common in women with OSA than men with the same condition, “even when all the other factors were taken into account.”

The findings, published in the European Respiratory Journal, showed 388 people were diagnosed with serious cancer — 160 women and 228 men. The most common cancer in women was breast, while prostate cancer was most likely in men.

“This link was especially strong in the women that we analysed and less so in the men,” Dr Pataka said.

“It suggests that severe OSA could be an indicator for cancer in women, though more research is needed to confirm these findings.”

Dr Pakata said while the classic symptoms of OSA such as sleepiness, snoring and stopping breathing during the night time are reported more frequently in men, other lesser known symptoms like fatigue, insomnia, depression and morning headaches are more common in women.

“Clinicians should be more careful with the evaluation of their female patients for possible OSA.”

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