Lack of Sleep Linked to Breast Cancer

Lack of Sleep Linked to Breast Cancer

Not getting enough sleep at night could put you at risk for more than nodding off at your desk. According to research from the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center at Case Western Reserve University and University Hospitals Case Medical Center’s Seidman Cancer Center, regularly missing out on sleep could raise the risk of aggressive forms of breast cancer.

Cancer researcher Cheryl Thompson, PhD, says the study is the first of its kind to demonstrate a relationship between lack of sleep and aggressive tumors. Researchers surveyed more than 400 breast cancer patients and compared their sleep habits over two years with their Oncotype DX scores, a test that predicts the likelihood of cancer recurrence.

They found women who slept fewer than six hours per night had higher Oncotype DX scores—and a greater risk their cancer would return.

“Short sleep duration is a public health hazard leading not only to obesity, diabetes and heart disease, but also cancer,” says Li Li, MD, PhD, a cancer researcher and family physician who coauthored the study with Thompson.

More research is needed to understand what causes the association, but Li says helping patients address sleep issues could prove an underappreciated avenue for reducing the risk of more aggressive forms of breast cancer.