How Sleep Apnea Can Promote Cancer Growth

Sleep Apnea Can Promote Cancer Growth?

Study Shows New Linkage Between Sleep Apnea and Cancer Growth

When we think of the trouble that snoring and sleep apnea bring, the first is always the annoying noise. Then there’s the daytime sleepiness, and association with high blood pressure and heart diseases.

But promoting cancer growth?

During the 2016 European Association of Urology Congress that happened this month in Munich, Germany, Dr. Antoni Vilaseca from the Hospital Clinic of Barcelona in Spain presented a new experiment finding which suggests a possible link between worsening cancer and sleep apnea.

In the study, the researchers studied a group of mice with kidney tumors. Half of these mice were placed in the control group (aka: Do nothing), and the other half, the experimental group, were introduced to a reduction of oxygen to simulate intermittent hypoxia. Hypoxia basically means insufficient oxygen in the body, which is a condition people with sleep apnea would experience, because of the breathing pause due to collapsed airway. People with sleep apnea will experience intermittent hypoxia throughout the night.

Lack of Oxygen Enhances Blood Vessel Growth in Tumor

The experimental group of mice was found to have an increased amount of vascular progenitor cells and endothelial cells within their kidney tumors. These cells basically promote the creation of new blood vessels in the tumours. This is problematic because, as Dr. Vilaseca notes, “Patients suffering from obstructive sleep apnea usually suffer from intermittent hypoxia at night. This work shows that intermittent hypoxia has the potential to promote the formation of blood vessels within tumors, meaning that the tumors have access to more nutrients.”

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