Researchers are interested in the potential relationship between obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and its immediate consequence, intermittent hypoxia, with the appearance of tumors. A new study, led by the lecturer Isaac Almendros, PhD, from the faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Barcelona Clinic Campus and Institut d’investigacions Biomèdiques August Pi i Sunyer, represents a step forward in our understanding of  of potential effects of obstructive sleep apnea in cancer.

This new study has been conducted on young mice (equivalent ages to those of human teens) and old mice  (corresponding to people aged over 65) and shows how the lack of oxygen during sleep (hypoxia) speeds up tumor growth in the youngest ones only.

The research team has related these results to a differential immune response to intermittent hypoxia in tumor-associated macrophages and regulator lymphocytes. Almendros says in a release, “We should consider the importance of the research conducted on animals aged equally to patients with respiratory chronic diseases, such as obstructive sleep apnea. Our challenge is to identify and prove sleep apnea’s physiopathological consequences and contribute to the development of personalized medicine to work on its comprehensive handling.”

The study is published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.