Relation Between Lack of Sleep and Cancer      

Sleep and Cancer


People frequently ask, "Does my poor sleep increase my risk of developing cancer?" This is a key factor in the relationship between lack of sleep and cancer. Others, however, exist. Cancer and sleep can be essential preventative strategies for lowering your cancer risk. Sleep is now a therapeutic tool in cancer treatment, thanks to medical discoveries that have deepened our understanding of circadian rhythms. Sleep can be a challenge and an opportunity for cancer patients: a challenge to sleep well and a chance to use Sleep to strengthen the body's natural powers to fight lack of sleep and cancer.

Cellular Health and Sleep

Before we look at how specific sleep issues may influence cancer risk, let's take a step back and review some basics about lack of sleep and cancer and sleeping problems.

Everyone knows how sleeping problems are for the body's cellular health. The body works to repair damaged cells and DNA, promote healthy new cell growth, and fortify and strengthen the immune system while sleeping, especially during deep, slow-wave sleep.

Sleep has been shown to have profound therapeutic properties in studies: In healthy adults, sleeping problems are linked to slower cellular aging, according to a 2014 study. Scientists used telomere length, a crucial cell-age indicator, to determine cellular age. Longer telomeres, a sign of "younger" cells, were found in older adults who slept well enough to avoid sleeping problems.

Studies have also shown that getting a lack of sleep and cancer affects cell and DNA function. Another 2014 study found that a lack of sleeping problems causes DNA damage, cell injury, and cell dysfunction, including increased cell death, cell proliferation, and the risk of cell replication errors.

Why is there so much focus on Sleep's role in cellular and DNA health? Cancer and sleep can take many forms, but it all involves the uncontrolled growth and replication of damaged, abnormal cells. Because our genes control how our cells behave, including how they grow, repair, and replicate, DNA plays a critical role in cancer and sleep.

People still have much to learn about lack of sleep and cancer risk and development. However, it's not difficult to see a link between lack of sleep and cancer, which is critical for the body to restore & maintain healthy cell function to prevent sleeping problems.

With those foundations in mind, let's examine how different sleeping problems patterns and issues may affect our cancer risk.

Is getting too little sleep linked to a higher risk of cancer?

Cancer and sleep deprivation is a widespread problem in our society that has been growing for decades. Over one-third of American adults do not get the recommended 7 hours of sleep per night. Teenagers suffer from sleep deprivation and debt, with as few as 15% getting the recommended 8-10 hours of sleep per night. Studies have linked cancer and sleep to an increased risk of severe and chronic illnesses such as heart disease and stroke, obesity, and type 2 diabetes. 

What about cancer, for example?

Currently, scientific research is contradictory in relation to lack of sleep and cancer. In several recent review studies, insufficient Sleep was found to have no statistically significant increased risk of cancer. At the same time, other research has linked how sleep affects cancer and increased risk of several types of cancer. Short-sleep duration, another way of saying not sleeping enough, has been linked to a higher risk of colorectal cancer in studies. 

Inadequate Sleep has also been linked to an increased risk of colorectal adenomas, polyps found in the colon that can sometimes turn cancerous. According to several studies, including this long-term, large-scale study published recently, short Sleep has also been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer.

Is it true that sleeping too much raises the risk of cancer?

Regarding cancer and sleep problems, the scientific evidence is similarly mixed. The health risks of oversleeping are often overlooked compared to not sleeping enough. They are, however, absolute. Oversleeping has been linked to depression and other mood disorders, obesity, heart disease, and neurodegenerative diseases like Hypertension. There's still no clear picture of how extended sleep duration, defined as sleeping more than 9 hours per night, affects cancer risk, just as there isn't one for a short sleep.

Some meta-analyses of studies that show no link between short cancer and sleep risk also show no link between long lack of sleep and cancer. Despite this, studies have found a link between certain types of cancer and excessive sleeping. According to research, sleeping more than 9 hours a night was linked to an increased risk of liver cancer in postmenopausal women. Some research suggests that longer sleep duration may increase the risk of breast cancer, while other studies have found no link between long sleep duration and breast cancer risk. 

Sleep duration appears to increase the risk of estrogen-positive forms of breast cancer in particular.

Why is there such a haziness about the effect of sleep duration on cancer risk? Sleep is a hugely complicated phenomenon. Cancer is a disease that is extremely difficult to understand. It's a difficult task to track and attribute the effects of one on the development of the other, and it necessitates close rigorous, long-term observation. We must look for better, more comprehensive answers to how sleep duration affects cancer development and lack of sleep cancer problems.

It's not just the duration or quantity of Sleep that matters when it comes to cancer, as it is with other aspects of health. Sleep quality, as well as sleep timing and routine, can have a significant impact. There's also compelling evidence that disrupted, poor-quality, and irregularly-timed Sleep can increase the risk of cancer.

What effect does erratic, disrupted sleep have on cancer risk?

While the evidence for a link between sleep duration and cancer risk is mixed, the scientific evidence for an association between poor sleep quality and irregular sleep schedules is more conclusive. In a growing body of research, restless, fragmented Sleep and irregular sleep patterns have been linked to increased cancer risk.

Studies have linked disrupted, poor-quality Sleep to an increased risk of several types of cancer, including breast, prostate, and thyroid cancer. Sleep deprivation may also contribute to cancer's aggressiveness.

You've probably heard me talk about consistency's importance in sleep routines. The single healthiest sleep habit you can develop is sticking to a regular sleep schedule that corresponds to your body's natural circadian rhythms. It will help you avoid cancer and sleep and sleeping problems. For many people, however, this is easier said than done. Overworked programs, stress, and nighttime exposure to screens and artificial light are just a few of the obstacles we face when maintaining a regular, restful sleep routine. 

Due to their work schedules, millions of Americans cannot sleep during the night according to their bodies' circadian clocks. Thousands of people work shifts in the evenings, overnights, and early mornings. They must sleep during "off hours," when the body is designed to be awake. They are awake at times when the body would naturally be sleeping.

According to a growing body of research, people who work night shifts are at a higher risk of developing several types of cancer. Many studies have looked into the effects of nighttime shift work on breast cancer, and they have found that night work, as well as nighttime exposure to light, increases the risk of breast cancer. According to studies, people who follow schedules that keep them awake at night are more likely to develop colorectal, gastrointestinal, skin, and lung cancers.

Women who worked long-term night shift schedules had a 19 percent higher overall cancer risk than women who did not work long-term shifts, according to a 2018 study. Specific cancer risks, such as breast, gastrointestinal, and skin cancers, were even higher. 

The longer the women worked night shifts, the greater their cancer risk became: researchers discovered that every five years of night shift work was linked to a 3.3 percent increased risk of breast cancer. The International Agency for Research on Cancer and the World Health Organization has identified night shift work as a likely carcinogen or cancer-causing factor, based on the strength of this research. Also Read: Melatonin Supplements for Sleep: All You Need to Know

Is there a link between insomnia and cancer?

Insomnia, restless leg syndrome, and sleep apnea are all sleep disorders that affect both the quantity and quality of Sleep. They can also be a symptom of, as well as a contributor to circadian sleep rhythm disruptions.

Research shows a link between a variety of lack of sleep and cancer disorders and an increased risk of cancer. In a 2015 study, insomnia, obstructive sleep apnea, and parasomnias were linked to an increased risk of cancer, including breast, oral, and prostate cancer. (Parasomnia refers to a wide range of sleep-related disturbances, such as teeth grinding, nighttime seizures, sleep-related movement disorders, and night terrors.)


The scientific evidence linking obstructive sleep apnea to increased cancer risk is particularly compelling. OSA is a sleeping breathing disorder that compromises or interrupts airflow for a short period. According to research, obstructive lack of sleep and cancer apnea has been linked to a higher risk of cancer, as well as more aggressive cancers and higher mortality rates among cancer patients with OSA. Obstructive sleep apnea and the lack of Sleep and cancer it causes were linked to a more aggressive form of lung cancer in a 2016 study. OSA has also been linked to more aggressive forms of melanoma in studies of cancer and sleep.

Authored By : Poorvi Chhajer

About Author : Poorvi is a psychology graduate with a knack for writing and belief in ayurveda.

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