A La Jolla Light report examines the research that links sleep deprivation to various types of cancer.
A 2014 study, for example, found that women who suffer chronic lack of sleep are more likely to develop more aggressive forms of breast cancer or experience recurrence. Another 2014 study reported that men with insomnia have a twofold greater risk of developing prostate cancer. And a 2010 study, which examined the sleep quality of persons prior to undergoing a colonoscopy, found a 50 percent increased risk of colorectal cancer in those who slept less than six hours per night.
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a common disorder involving disrupted nocturnal breathing that results in fragmented sleep. It is estimated to affect at least 13 percent of men and 6 percent of women, with prevalence growing as the population becomes more obese (a major cause of OSA). Not surprisingly, OSA is already associated with heightened cardiovascular problems, such as arrhythmias, systemic hypertension and myocardial ischemia. In addition, there are neurocognitive consequences, such as excessive daytime sleepiness, poor job performance and greater risk of accidents.