The overall link between sleep apnea and cancer is less well-defined than the link between sleep apnea and heart disease or diabetes. However, there are some indications that sleep apnea could increase the risk of cancer, including the risk of breast cancer.
A Taiwanese Study
Researchers proposed that intermittent hypoxia (low oxygen) could be the mechanism by which sleep apnea stimulates the growth of cancers. However, they did not determine whether the degree of hypoxia or the severity of sleep apnea contributed to cancer risk. Based on their results for the aged-based risk, it’s likely that this study is just too small to answer such questions.
Women Should Be Screened for Sleep Apnea
Although snoring and sleep apnea are commonly associated with men, many women have sleep apnea and go undiagnosed. Sleep apnea increases many health risks for women, in addition to breast cancer. If you have symptoms of sleep apnea, such as:
- Daytime sleepiness
- Lack of interest
You should talk to your doctor about sleep apnea, especially if you are postmenopausal.