“It’s reasonable to assume that sleep apnoea is a risk factor for cancer or that both conditions have common risk factors, such as being overweight,” says Ludger Grote, an adjunct professor and chief physician in sleep medicine at Gothenburg University in Sweden.
He and his colleagues note that while there is growing evidence for a link between OSA and cancer, it remains under debate. The main reason appears to be the small numbers of study participants and “poor characterization” of types of OSA and cancer.
Until the recent research, very few studies had examined whether biological sex made a difference to the link between OSA and cancer.
In their results, Dr Grote and his colleagues found, as expected, that there was an association between older age and a higher risk of cancer.
However, when they adjusted the results of the analysis to take out the potential influence of age, sex, body mass index (BMI), alcohol intake, and smoking, they found a possible association between intermittent nocturnal hypoxia and higher rates of cancer.
Stronger link in females
In addition, the analysis revealed that the link between nocturnal hypoxia and higher rates of cancer was stronger in females and weaker in males.
Dr Grote says that previous research has tended to focus on the link between OSA and malignant melanoma. In the light of his team’s findings, “Cancer of the breast or womb may now become a new area,” he suggests.
Source: Medical News Today