Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Ripple Effect: Sleep Apnea’s Toll on the Body

A new Gallup poll found that sleep apnea’s effect on the body might go further than people know.

Data indicates that untreated sleep apnea can increase a person’s risk for high blood pressure, diabetes and heart attack.

Now, a poll of 350,000 U.S. adults indicates that these diseases, in turn, can raise a person’s risk for cancer.

Researchers conducted the survey by phone between 2008 and 2009. All of the participants were 18 years or older. When controlled for age, the results remained unchanged.

Five percent of people who did not have high blood pressure had been diagnosed with cancer. In contrast, 11.8 percent of people with high blood pressure had also been diagnosed with cancer.

More than six percent of people without diabetes had been diagnosed with cancer. In contrast, more than 12 percent of people with diabetes had also been diagnosed with cancer.

Americans with a history of heart attacks were three times more likely to report being diagnosed with cancer than people who had never had a heart attack.

The largest gap was found in 18 to 29 year-olds. More than 17 percent of patients who had had a heart attack were also diagnosed with cancer. In contrast, only 1.2 percent of people without a heart attack history had received a cancer diagnosis.

The study notes that while these results do not indicate that one condition causes the other, they do reflect shared risk behaviors like smoking and unhealthy eating habits.

Image by Gary Foulger

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The Official Blog of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine (AADSM) is intended as an information source only. Content of this blog should not be used for self-diagnosis or treatment, and it is not a substitute for medical care, which should be provided by the appropriate health care professional. If you suspect you have a sleep-related breathing disorder, such as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), you should consult your personal physician or visit an AASM-accredited sleep disorders center. The AADSM, and the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, as the managing agent of the AADSM, assume no liability for the information contained on the Official Blog of the AADSM or for its use.