Sleep disorders linked to other problems: doctor

Staff writer, with CNA

Mon, Mar 18, 2013 - Page 3

People with sleep apnea are 1.47 times more likely to develop malignant brain tumors than those who do not have the sleep disorder, said a doctor, citing a study that he led.

Huang Chun-hao (黃俊豪), director of the Sleep Center at the Buddhist Tzu Chi General Hospital in Chiayi County, said that starting in 2000 his study examined 112,555 adults diagnosed with sleep apnea and 112,555 adults who did not have the disorder.

Sleep apnea is a disorder characterized by abnormal pauses in breathing or instances of abnormally low breathing during sleep. Each pause in breathing is called an apnea.

The study, which followed several of the participants for up to 10 years, found that the incidence of malignant brain tumors among people with sleep apnea is 2.96 in every 10,000 per year, Huang said.

Among people without the sleep disorder, the ratio is 1.66 per 10,000 per year, he said at a two-day academic conference which started on Saturday held by the Taiwan Society of Sleep Medicine.

After making adjustments for factors such as age, gender, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, hyperlipidemia, cerebral vascular disease and Parkinson’s disease, Huang found that the ratio of adults with sleep apnea who developed malignant brain tumors was 1.47 times that in the control group.

Medical literature has suggested that women can reduce the risk of breast cancer by getting adequate sleep, Huang said.

People who do not get enough sleep also have a higher chance of developing colon adenomas, he said.

Those who do not sleep well and have an insufficient supply of oxygen to the body are at increased risk for all kinds of cancer, he added.

He said that while sleep apnea and snoring may be seen as minor problems, attention should be given to dealing with these conditions, which in turn will help prevent high blood pressure, hyperlipidemia and high blood sugar, and reduce the risk of cancer.