Sleep apnea increases cancer risk

As the information about cancer increases, the relationship between cancer and the elements in our lives that are not suitable for health and disrupt the balance of the body come to light. Smoking, obesity, occupational factors and some foods are among the culprits held responsible for cancer. However, there is another factor that has started to be discussed especially in recent years, although it has not been emphasized much, sleep duration and quality… Acıbadem Kozyatağı Hospital Chest Diseases and Sleep Disorders Specialist Assoc. Dr. Ceyda Kırışoğlu Demir points out that breast and ovarian cancers in women and prostate, pancreatic, colon, bladder and lung cancers in men are more common in those who sleep less than 6 hours and who are exposed to excessive light at night by working in shifts for a long time. Assoc. Dr. Ceyda Kırışoğlu Demir states that the study, which evaluated the duration and quality of sleep, melatonin hormone release and the duration of exposure to light, which lasted for approximately 22 years, proved that cancer development and cancer-related deaths increased 2.5-5 times, especially in patients with moderate and severe sleep apnea.

If sleep apnea, which manifests itself with symptoms such as snoring, cessation of breathing during sleep, waking up tired in the morning and excessive daytime sleepiness, is not treated, diabetes, insulin resistance, heart attack, hypertension, heart rhythm problems, paralysis, sexual reluctance, impotence, weight loss difficulties, forgetfulness. It was known to cause an increase in work and traffic accidents due to depression and excessive daytime sleepiness. However, recent studies reveal that sleep apnea is also associated with cancer. So, which triggering mechanisms does sleep apnea activate, causing the development of cancer? This question, Chest Diseases and Sleep Disorders Specialist Assoc. Dr. Ceyda Kırışoğlu Demir answers as follows: “Apnea is a condition in which snoring and shortness of breath occur during sleep. When breathing stops and the oxygen level drops, our brain wakes up and says, ‘You’re drowning! After giving the command ‘Breathe’, the breath is taken again and the oxygen level returns to normal. However, these ups and downs create stress for the body. This condition, defined as ‘oxidative stress’, plays a key role in tumor development by causing DNA damage.”

Melatonin is a powerful antioxidant

At the same time, deviations in our biological clock, disruption or delay in the release of the hormone melatonin, changes in sleep hours also reveal behavioral disorders and DNA damage in cells. This paves the way for cancer. Reminding that the hormone melatonin is a powerful antioxidant that protects against cancer and prevents tumor development, Assoc. Dr. Ceyda Kırışoğlu Demir states that cancer is more common in people who sleep less and who work in shifts due to the disruption of the melatonin release mechanism.

Sleep apnea can lead to brain and heart diseases

Sleep quality also affects cancer treatment

Regular and quality sleep is as important as preventing cancer in the treatment of a diagnosed cancer. In the treatment of cancer, which is a stressful and difficult process, insomnia due to anxiety and depression, sleep interruptions due to pain and treatment side effects are among the common problems. Stating that restless legs syndrome seen in some patients, especially during anemia periods, is much more severe due to sleep problems, Assoc. Dr. Ceyda Kırışoğlu Demir points out that sleep apnea accompanying cancer can also reduce the response to chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Stating that paying attention to the sleep duration and quality of cancer patients will play an important role in the fight against cancer, Assoc. Dr. Ceyda Kırışoğlu Demir said, “As you can see, sleep can be affected in many different ways in cancer patients. For this reason, it is absolutely necessary to get support from a sleep specialist during the treatment and follow-up process.

What are the sleep conditions that will increase melatonin levels?

  • Go to bed as early as possible.
  • Make sure the room temperature is warm or even slightly cold as it will make it easier to fall asleep.
  • Do not keep electronic devices in the room, if any, turn them off completely.
  • Try to provide complete darkness. Do not use night light for this, use sleep masks if necessary.

Tall height increases cancer risk

  • Avoid watching TV until late.
  • Try not to be exposed to computer and smartphone lights 1-2 hours before going to bed at night, as the blue light source will deceive the brain and suppress the secretion of melatonin.
  • Take advantage of as much sunlight as possible during the day.
  • Ventilate the room before going to bed and take care to change your pillows and bedding at regular intervals.

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