June 1, 2012

Are your sleeping habits
giving you cancer?

If you have sleep apnea, you may suffer from fatigue, weight gain, adrenal problems, and other health challenges. But now there’s evidence that it may significantly increase your risk for something even more dangerous — cancer.

A new study that’s gained a lot of attention in the media says that snoring has a dramatic impact on your chances of getting cancer. In fact, the researchers found that snoring increases your risk by a stunning 480% in those with the most disordered sleep breathing. Even those with a “slight” problem had a 10% greater risk of cancer.

This shouldn’t be new to long-term readers of Second Opinion. I reported on sleep apnea as a major cause for many diseases years ago. Snoring can be a symptom of sleep apnea.

This study, which followed more than 1,500 people, proved that sleep disordered breathing deprives your body of sufficient oxygen for hours at a time. Knowing that snoring often goes along with obesity, which itself generates cancer, the researchers were careful to control for weight, as well as age, sex, and smoking. So they know it was the snoring itself — and the oxygen depletion that accompanies it — that lead to the increased risk.

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Alternative-minded doctors have known for years that low oxygen levels can stimulate cells to degenerate to cancer. But conventional medicine is just now catching on. Animal studies have shown that intermittent hypoxia (low oxygen levels) promotes tumor growth in mice with skin cancer. Lack of oxygen stimulates the generation of blood vessels that nourish tumors, a process known as angiogenesis.

If you snore, I suggest you have a doctor conduct a study wherein you sleep with an “oxymeter” clip attached to your finger. A machine can read your oxygen saturation overnight. If it falls, you should seek help. However, don’t start with the usual CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure machine) machine to treat it. It can provide relief, but is not at all addressing the cause. And it has other problems. For instance, many people get worse sleep using the CPAP machine because it’s so big and bulky.

Furthermore, recent articles have somewhat conflicting conclusions about whether or not CPAP protects you from developing hypertension. Doctors know that the stress of the sleep apnea can send your sympathetic nervous system into hyperdrive. That sets up hypertension. CPAP keeps your airway open at a price. Forcibly imposing positive pressure to fill your lungs with the CPAP machine can compromise blood return to your heart. This can cause a number of long-term ramifications. So I don’t recommend the CPAP machine.

I’ve written in these pages about the pioneering work of Farrand Robson, DDS of Tacoma (253-272-8651) and his Oral Systemic Balance program. He instantly fixed my friend Ronald MacDonald of severe sleep apnea with a dental appliance. He has trained dozens of dentists in his particular techniques. There are other dentists who can provide this service. Ask his office for someone near you.

This is a treatable condition! You don’t have to get cancer just because you snore!

Ref: American Thoracic Society Conference, San Francisco, May 20, 2012; Telegraph May 22, 2012; JAMA, May 23, 2012.

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