Research published in CMAJ finds that contrary to previous studies with a “small number of participants,” there is no link between obstructive sleep apnea and the development of cancer.
The article “Obstructive sleep apnea and the prevalence and incidence of cancer” reports that previous research has linked sleep apnea to cancer progression. However, these studies included only a small number of participants, and there may have been some bias in their measurements.
The new study looked at 10,149 sleep apnea patients who took part in a sleep study between 1994 and 2010, and researchers cross-referenced that information with health administrative databases from 1991-2013. “At the start of the study, 5.1% of participants had been diagnosed with cancer,” writes Medical News. “Study participants were followed for an average of 7.8 years, and during this follow-up period, 6.5% of the participants who did not have cancer at the start of the study developed cancer. The most common cancers in the study were prostate, breast, colorectal and lung cancers.”
After adjusting their results to take into account various cancer risk factors, the researchers were unable to find a causal link between sleep apnea and cancer.