Previous studies put a scare into sufferers of Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), saying those with the disorder were at a higher risk of cancer. New research, however, is easing those concerns, saying there does not appear to be a link.
Obstructive sleep apnea is a breathing disorder in which the airways repeatedly close while the patient is sleeping, causing fragmented sleep that increases risk for a variety of other health problems. About 18 million Americans have sleep apnea.
Some previous studies linked OSA to cancer progression, but those studies included only a small number of participants, and there may have been some bias in their measurements.
The new study looked at 10,149 sleep apnea patients who took part in a sleep study between 1994 and 2010. At the start of the study, slightly more than five percent of participants had been diagnosed with cancer. Study participants were followed for an average of 7.8 years, and during this follow-up period, only six-and-a-half percent of the participants who did not have cancer at the start of the study developed cancer. The most common cancers in the study were prostate, breast, colorectal and lung cancers.
After adjusting their results to take into account various cancer risk factors, the researchers were unable to find a causal link between sleep apnea and cancer.