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Why is Cancer More Common in Women with Sleep Apnea?

April 16, 2024

Filed under: Uncategorized — sleepdunwoodyteam @ 1:00 pm
concerned woman

A 2019 study from the European Respiratory Journal uncovered an unnerving discovery—compared to men with sleep apnea, women with the disorder were shown to develop cancer two to three times more. This is despite the fact that men have sleep apnea at a much higher rate. So what is causing this correlation? Is there something women can do that could both reduce their sleep problems and keep them protected from cancer?

The Relationship Between Cancer & Sleep Apnea

It’s important to point out that, according to this study, the link between sleep apnea and cancer in women is correlational, not causational. That means that while both conditions seem to occur together, researchers haven’t determined if one actually leads to another.

There are multiple theories being studied at the moment to get to the bottom of this, such as figuring out if women’s hormone differences are the underlying cause of this connection. But at the moment, this is just a concerning fact with no definitive answer.

A Little Sunlight  

While this all might sound dire, there is room for optimism. The truth is that cancer and sleep apnea share many causes that have been shown in separate studies to increase someone’s risk of both conditions regardless of sex. So by addressing them, a person can protect themselves from sleep apnea and cancer at the same time.

These include factors such as obesity and tobacco usage. They can cause breathing difficulties during sleep that contribute to sleep apnea as well as lead to prolonged inflammation and an extended immune response throughout the body, which increases the chances of cancerous growths.

What You Can Do

Quitting tobacco and losing weight are simple in concept but dreadfully hard in reality. Thankfully, when it comes to sleep apnea, there is a relatively simple solution—oral appliance therapy. This involves working with a trained sleep dentist who provides the patient with a specially-made mouthguard worn to bed. It prevents the stoppages in breathing and enables the person to sleep deeply and uninterrupted throughout the night.

Once someone has their sleep apnea under control, they will have much more energy and mental fortitude that can be applied to efforts like smoking cessation and weight loss. This can help reduce or even eliminate sleep apnea while also greatly lowering cancer risk.  

So before you feel overwhelmed by all the information above, know that the first step just involves making an appointment with a sleep dentist. After that, you’re on a straight path toward better nights, better mornings, and many more days to come.

About the Author

Dr. Jeff Rodgers is an expert in sleep dentistry who has been practicing for over 20 years. He earned his dental doctorate at the University of Alabama School of Dentistry and began taking advanced courses in sleep dentistry to master the use of oral appliances and other treatment options to help his patients get a better night’s rest. Call (770) 394-4310 to schedule a sleep apnea consultation at Sleep Better Georgia or visit the website to learn more.

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