The Daily Telegraph reports that that scientists now believe having low blood oxygen levels can trigger the development of cancerous tumours, by promoting the growth of the vessels that feed them.
“They say in future doctors could help people fight the disease by stopping them snoring. Researchers in the US looked at cancer rates in more than 1,500 people, in a study of sleep problems that has been going for 22 years. They found those with severe sleep disordered breathing (SDB) were 4.8 times more likely to develop cancer than those who had no such problems.
Those with moderate SDB were at double the risk, while those with only a slight problem had a 10 per cent increased chance, according to the group, from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.”
Dr Javier Nieto, who led the study, said: “The consistency of the evidence from the animal experiments and this new epidemiologic evidence in humans is highly compelling.” Laboratory and animal studies, “suggest that intermittent hypoxia promotes angiogenesis and tumour growth”. He continued: “Ours is the first study to show an association between SDB and an elevated risk of cancer mortality in a population-based sample.”
The results were presented on Sunday at the annual conference of the American Thoracic Society in San Francisco. They will also be published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.