(PHILADELPHIA) — Doctors have found a surprising connection between sleeping poorly and one of the most common male diseases — prostate cancer.
A study from Iceland, published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention, suggests that sleep problems may be linked to an increased risk of prostate cancer.
“Sleep problems are very common in modern society and can have adverse health consequences,” Lara G. Sigurdardóttir, M.D., at the University of Iceland in Reykjavik, said in a statement. “Women with sleep disruption have consistently been reported to be at an increased risk for breast cancer, but less is known about the potential role of sleep problems in prostate cancer.”
For the study, more than 2,000 men ages 67 to 96, who were without cancer, were asked about their sleep habits, including whether they took sleep medication, had difficulty falling asleep or difficulty falling back asleep if they wake up too soon, or felt unrested after sleep.
After being followed for five years, the men who reported trouble getting to sleep and staying asleep were more likely to develop prostate cancer. More specifically, 8.7 percent and 5.7 percent, reported severe and very severe sleep trouble, respectively. During the five-year period, 6.4 percent were diagnosed with prostate cancer. These men also tended to have more severe disease at the time of diagnosis.
The authors say it’s not clear whether sleep disruptions directly contribute to prostate cancer, or whether poor sleep is a sign of overall poor health, making men more susceptible to the disease, they agree the data should be confirmed with a larger sample over a longer period of time.
“Prostate cancer is one of the leading public health concerns for men and sleep problems are quite common,” Sigurdardóttir said. “If our results are confirmed with further studies, sleep may become a potential target for intervention to reduce the risk for prostate cancer.”
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