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Lack Of Sleep Linked To Increased Cancer Risk

Posted by Chrissie Cole
Monday, November 17, 2008 11:09 PM EST
Category: Major Medical
Tags: Women's Health, Cancer, Exercise, Sleep Deprivation, Obesity, Diabetes, Hypertension, Heart Disease, Depression


IMAGE SOURCE: © iStockphoto / sleeping woman / author: graphixel

Physical activity is good for more than just your waistline. A recent study suggests it can help to reduce a woman’s overall risk of cancer, but only if she gets a good night’s sleep.

More than one-quarter of the U.S. population reports occasionally not getting sufficient amounts of sleep, while nearly 10% experience chronic insomnia.

A study of 6,000 Maryland woman confirmed earlier studies that found people who do regular physical activity are less likely to develop cancer.

But, when researchers looked at women between 18 and 65 in the topmost in terms of how much physical activity they got each week, they found that sleep played an important role in cancer risk.

Women who slept less than seven hours each night had a 47 percent greater risk of cancer, than those who got more sleep among physically active women.

Of the 6,000 women, 604 experienced a first cancer incidence, including 186 cases of breast cancer. Women in the upper 50 percent of physical activity energy expenditure (PAEE) showed a significantly lower overall risk of cancer and breast cancer.

The study findings were presented at a meeting of the American Association of Cancer Research (AACR) this week.

“We are intrigued by the findings and find them quite interesting. This study is one of the first to investigate the link between physical activity and cancer,” said James McClain of the National Cancer Institute, in a phone interview.

It is not entirely clear how getting too little sleep may make a person vulnerable to cancer, said McClain. “Adequate sleep has long been associated with various health conditions,” he said.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) refers to chronic sleep deprivation as an under-recognized public health issue, saying Americans are getting less sleep. The amount of adults reporting six or fewer hours of sleep a night, increased from 1985 to 2006, said the CDC.

According to sleep experts, insufficient sleep is associated with a number of chronic diseases and conditions including cardiovascular disease, cigarette smoking, depression, diabetes, excessive drinking, hypertension, obesity and stroke.

Researchers also found that those who participate in regular physical activity have a reduced risk of developing cancer, including breast and colon cancer. Experts theorize that the effects of physical activity on the body’s immune function, hormone levels and body weight play an important role.

Women concerned about chronic sleep loss should consult their physician for an assessment and possible treatment, such as behavioral or medical interventions if needed.

Teenagers who get insufficient amounts of sleep are at risk of developing hypertension, suggests a recent study in the journal Circulation.

Studies show teens that sleep fewer than 6 ½ hours each night are at twice the risk of hypertension (high blood pressure) and those with troubled sleep habits are at triple the risk, found researchers at Western Reserve University in Cleveland. #

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