Sleep Apnea and Cancer

snoringIt has been proven that over 18 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea, a shallow breathing condition that inhibits sleep. The non-breathing pauses one can take whilst sleeping can happen as often as 30 times in a sleep session, with each pause lasting as long as a few minutes. Various causes lead to this condition, like smoking, alcohol use, obesity, and dental issues. But now there is one more thing we have to be careful of when it comes to sleep apnea: it can also increase your cancer risks.

Recent studies have concluded that intermittent hypoxia, or oxygen reduction to the body tissues caused by sleep apnea, may be the cause of growing cancer tumors. The experiments have only been conducted on lab mice, but those with the simulated intermittent hypoxia developed more vascular progenitor cells and endothelial cells than those mice unexposed. These cells can go on to mature and create blood vessels, which feeds cancer tumors. There has also been evidence that intermittent hypoxia can also lead increase vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and it is that protein that is also known to boost blood vessel formations.

At the European Association of Urology (EAU) Congress in Munich, Germany, lead researcher Dr. Antoni Vilaseca, of the Hospital Clinic De Barcelona in Spain, and colleagues recently presented their findings. Found to be remarkable, many believe these results definitely show that oxygen deficiency is affecting renal tumor growth. Vilaseca says, “Patients suffering from obstructive sleep apnea usually suffer from intermittent hypoxia at night. This work shows that intermittent hypoxia has the potential to promote the formation of blood vessels within tumors, meaning that the tumors have access to more nutrients.

This is of course an early animal study, so we need to be cautious in applying this to humans. Nevertheless, this work indicates a plausible mechanism for just why conditions which restrict oxygen flow to tissues, like sleep apnea, may promote cancers.”

Because there are so many factors that cause sleeping disorders, and so many variations of sleep, misdiagnosis is often common when it comes to those with sleep apnea. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can help prevent further complications to your sleep, but getting yourself checked is the only real way to know for sure. You may or may not have sleep apnea, but the best way to rule it out and come up with a definite diagnosis is to have yourself checked by a sleep professional. Free yourself from sleep apnea and its many effects on your health!

If you think that you may be suffering from sleep apnea, contact Dr. Gary Alhadef, DDS to schedule a consult today. Visit our website at www.dallascosmeticdental.com to learn more about sleep apnea.