Health insurance news: Link between snoring and cancer risk found
A survey has suggested there may be a link between snoring and the risk of cancer.
Scientists from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health found that the link between sleep disordered breathing (SDB), of which snoring is a main symptom, and cancer death increases with severity.
The study found that those participants who suffered from severe SDB were as much as five times more likely to die of cancer than those unaffected by the problem.
This could, according to those involved in the study, be due to breathing problems leading to an inadequate supply of oxygen.
This is because intermittent hypoxia – also known as oxygen starvation – has been shown to promote tumour growth in mice with skin cancer. The lack of oxygen stimulates the generation of blood vessels that nourish cancerous tumours.
In total, scientists looked at 22 years' worth of data involving 1,522 people with participants undergoing tests for sleep and breathing measurements at four-year intervals.
The results of the study will be of interest to health bodies as well as patients, especially those with health insurance, and study leader Dr Javier Nieto said the results were compelling.
He said: "The consistency of the evidence from the animal experiments and this new epidemiologic evidence in humans is highly compelling.
"In vitro [laboratory] and animal studies suggest that intermittent hypoxia promotes angiogenesis and tumour growth, which can explain these observations."
He said theirs was the "first study to show an association between SDB and an elevated risk of cancer mortality in a population-based sample".
However, he did warn that further studies were needed in order to test the relationship between SDB, obesity and cancer risk and check for any replicated results.
This, he said, could be used to positive effect by helping people to live longer.
"If the relationship between SDB and cancer mortality is validated in further studies, the diagnosis and treatment of SDB in patients with cancer might be indicated to prolong survival," he said.