Research Shows Sleep Influences Cancer Development

June 29th 2017
Laurie Toich, Assistant Editor
Laurie Toich, Assistant Editor

It is recommended that most adults receive 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night for optimal cognition and general well-being.

It is recommended that most adults receive 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night for optimal cognition and general well-being. Getting enough sleep during infancy and childhood is essential for development of numerous organs and body processes.

While sleep is not as important in middle age as it is for younger individuals, difficulties falling asleep or maintaining sleep may increase the risk of developing dementia and lung cancer, according to a study published by theJournal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

During sleep, the body carries out cellular repair, immune functions, neuronal plasticity of the brain, and memory consolidation, which are essential for normal body functioning.

Insufficient sleep, sleep-disordered breathing, insomnia, or sleep disruptions can lead to excessive daytime tiredness and can impact day-to-day activities. Individuals may experience difficulties in thinking, greater need for energy, increased cellular stress, in addition to lower heart rate and body temperature, according to the study.

In the long-term, sleep disturbances can lead to cardiovascular disease, cancer, and dementia.

Included in the new study were 2682 men participating in the Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Study. At baseline examinations between 1984 and 1989, patients were aged 42 to 60.

The authors discovered that individuals who slept longer or shorter than 7 to 7.5 hours per night had an increased risk of developing lung cancer, according to the study. These results were confirmed after accounting for other risk factors, such as smoking.

The investigators hypothesize that the link between sleep duration and cancer is driven by low-grade inflammation and disruptions in melatonin secretion, according to the study. These factors are involved with the development and proliferation of cancer.

The authors also discovered a relationship between short sleep and increased serum copper levels.

Low-grade inflammation has been linked to sleep duration and levels of zinc and copper, which contribute to oxidative processes and can increase the risk of cancer and cardiovascular diseases.

The authors hypothesize that sleep disturbances may cause structural changes in the brain, low-grade inflammation, and disruptions of neurogenesis that can lead to dementia.

While getting the recommended amount of sleep may prevent the conditions, additional studies are needed to prove the link between sleep disturbance and dementia.

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