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Over the years, I have done several articles on obstructive sleep apnea and how it can affect patients in a negative manner.
This type of sleep disorder is a situation when oxygen does not get to the lungs because of a collapsed or blocked airway and that deprives the body of oxygen that directly affects the brain and heart.
Obstructive sleep apnea has been connected and linked to heart disease, obesity, diabetes and depression and now very well may be linked to cancer. This information is preliminary and based on several studies that are ongoing, but early reports suggest the lack of oxygen makes the body grow more blood vessels to provide more blood to deliver oxygen that is so important and needed for a healthy existence.
All of us deserve a restful night’s sleep and it is estimated that upward of 30 million Americans suffer with obstructive sleep apnea. These numbers, unfortunately, are likely to increase because of America’s tendency to become fatter.
Besides waking up tired, irritable and having a headache, obstructive sleep apnea puts patients at risk for heart attack, stroke and premature aging of the brain due to lack of oxygen. This new correlation or connection with cancer is even more disturbing.
Scientists have come to the conclusion that obstructive sleep apnea can stimulate cancer growth by looking back at known apneic patients and noticing an increase of more than 50 percent as compared to people who do not have obstructive sleep apnea in regard to developing cancers of all types.
Scientists have also tried to reproduce this situation in labs by depriving lab animals of oxygen and they can document that cancer tumors grow at a more rapid rate because the body responds by developing more blood vessels to address the low oxygen situation and as a result, it fuels the cancer growth.
This latest link to cancer is very disturbing and should be, once again, a wake-up call to Americans who are not in good health, or overweight and who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea to change their lifestyle, otherwise they may be at risk for early death, and the possibility of an increased chance of cancer.
Denis Grillo, D.O., FOCOO, is an ear, nose and throat specialist in Crystal River. Call him at 352-795-0011 or visit CrystalCommunityENT.com.