Is Sleep Apnea a Risk Factor for Cancer in Women?

July 9, 2021

Filed under: Uncategorized — prachddsteam @ 4:10 pm
Senior woman with morning headache, may have sleep apnea

After heart disease, cancer is the leading cause of death in the United States. While some cases of cancer are inevitable due to an individual’s genetics, many cases arise from modifiable risk factors. Research suggests that sleep apnea may be one of those risk factors, especially for women. Let’s take a look at how these two serious conditions may be connected.

Cancer Is More Common in Women with Sleep Apnea

A 2019 study examined data from nearly 20,000 adults with sleep apnea. The researchers found that 2% of the patients had been diagnosed with a serious cancer. However, the distribution of cancer between the two genders was not even. 2.8% of the women had cancer, while cancer afflicted only 1.7% of the men. Most of the people with cancer were over 50 years of age.

Does Sleep Apnea Cause Cancer?

There is a clear association between women with sleep apnea and cancer. However, there is not sufficient evidence to say that sleep apnea actually causes the cancer. The explanation for the link between them could relate to the fact that they have common risk factors, such as being overweight and smoking cigarettes.

Of course, it is also possible that sleep apnea has a direct effect on cancer risk. Some researchers believe that the oxygen deprivation and fragmented sleep caused by sleep apnea can affect the health of tissues throughout the body and may contribute to the development of tumors.

The risk may be higher in women than in men due to females’ hormonal makeup combined with the stress caused by nighttime oxygen deprivation.

What You Can Do

Whether or not there is a causal relationship between sleep apnea and cancer, it is certainly worth every effort to ensure that you get enough high-quality sleep each night. Even if doing so will not affect cancer risk, it is likely to have other health benefits, including improved mood, better blood pressure control, and more.

Here are a few tips that could help women improve the quality of their sleep:

  • If you are experiencing any symptoms of sleep apnea in Casper, such as snoring or morning headaches, seek diagnosis and treatment.
  • Talk to your doctor about other factors that might affect the quality of your sleep, such as hormonal changes and mental health conditions.
  • Practice good sleep hygiene. For example, you should have a regular bedtime routine and invest in a comfortable mattress.

A possible increased risk of cancer is just one of the many sleep apnea health effects. Taking control of the quality of your sleep might save your life!

Meet the Practice

Dr. Erin Prach is an empathetic, highly trained dentist who is proud to offer sleep apnea treatment in Casper in the form of custom oral appliances. Oral appliances are a popular, convenient alternative to traditional CPAP therapy. If you are concerned that you might be suffering from sleep apnea, Dr. Prach can help you arrange for testing and explore your options for finding relief. Contact our practice at 307-337-4770. 

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