An important new finding has come from an observational study linking obstructive sleep apnea with cancer mortality. Based on 22 years of follow-up data from the Wisconsin Sleep Cohort, investigators reported that mortality was higher for people with mild obstructive sleep apnea , moderate obstructive sleep apnea , and severe obstructive sleep apnea .
Cancer mortality in this context refers to all types of cancer, with lung cancer the most frequent. The researchers cited preclinical studies showing that chronic or intermittent hypoxia—the latter mimicking clinical obstructive sleep apnea—can lead to tumor growth and resistance to radiotherapy. This new research provides a possible mechanistic link between obesity and cancer, and will help to increase awareness of obstructive sleep apnea by broadening its potential detrimental outcomes beyond the cardiovascular system. Whether the purported effects of obstructive sleep apnea on cancer mortality will be reported in other cohorts or can be mitigated by intervention is unclear. Read the rest of this entry