A Surprising Connection
This insight comes after researchers analyzed data from the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI). Begun in 1991, the WHI includes a population of over 120,000 postmenopausal women. Researchers collected a large amount of data from these women when they joined the study, including how long they slept on average every night, and whether they snored. Then women in the study were observed for over ten years.
Over the course of the study, over 21,000 women developed cancer of some type. Researchers then analyzed the data from these women to determine the potential link between snoring, sleep, and cancer survival. They discovered that women who reported short sleep duration (≤ 6 hours) and frequent snoring (5 or more nights a week) had significantly poorer survival rates, being 1.32 times more likely to die following a cancer diagnosis.
Breast cancer survival rates were independently linked with short sleep (1.46 times less likely to survive) and snoring (1.34 times less likely to survive), and women who had both were about twice as likely to die of breast cancer than those who slept 7-8 hours and didn’t report snoring.
Could Inflammation Be the Link?
This study wasn’t designed to determine whether a causal link existed between the two conditions, but there are some intriguing potential ways that there could be a causal link between poor sleep and poor cancer survival. Perhaps the strongest potential link is inflammatory hormones.
Inflammatory hormones have been shown to increase a person’s cancer risk. Our body also can’t regulate inflammatory proteins as well when we get poor sleep. This includes both short sleep and sleep disrupted by snoring or sleep apnea. An excess of inflammatory proteins could contribute to cancer growth, making a person’s odds of success lower.
Sleep apnea is a factor that the current study couldn’t account for. Sleep apnea was not included in the original study, but sleep apnea has been independently associated with cancer risk, including breast cancer.
The good news in this study is that these are risk factors that we can easily counter. There are easy, comfortable, convenient, and effective snoring solutions that can help you get the sleep you need to battle illness like cancer.
If you would like to learn more about these snoring solutions in the Detroit area, please call (248) 480-0085 for an appointment with a sleep dentist at the Michigan Center for TMJ & Sleep Wellness in Rochester Hills.