Sleep and Cancer

There are numerous causes of cancer including smoking, carcinogens in the food, air pollution, and even excessive exposure to sunlight.  Now sleep deprivation may added to an already lengthy list.

A poor night’s sleep not only makes getting through the day difficult, it also may increase your risk of disease, especially if you suffer from chronic lack of sleep. Inadequate sleep has been associated with obesity, diabetes, stroke, heart disease and now with causing cancer.

Studies in recent years have identified a relationship between lack of sleep and some of the top cancers in the United States including prostate and breast cancer.

Approximatley 10% of the population experiences some kind of sleep disturbance. Stress, illness, aging and drug treatment are the main culprits. Quality sleep, though, is essential to healing, proper immune function and mental health, making it important for adults to get 7-8 hours of sleep a night.

Researchers have found that lack of sleep increases inflammation and disrupts normal immune function. Both inflammation and a defective immune system may promote cancer development.

Prostate cancer: Affecting more men than any other cancer, an estimated 233,000 new cases of prostate cancer are expected in 2017. A study published in 2016 found that men who suffer from insomnia may be at increased risk of prostate cancer.  Researchers identified a twofold risk of developing prostate cancer in men with sleep insomnia.

Breast cancer: An estimated quarter million women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2017. A recent study suggests that women may develop more aggressive breast cancer if they chronically lack sleep.

How to sleep well

Drifting to sleep may seem like a dream when you’re tossing and turning in bed. But there are several bedtime strategies and rules that may help improve your sleep at night. Make sure your bed and bedroom are quiet and comfortable, then give these tips a try:

  • Get up and go to bed at approximately the same time every evening
  • Don’t take naps, for sure not longer than 20 minutes
  • Only use your bed for sleep and sex
  • Avoid caffeine, nicotine and alcohol at least 4-6 hours before bed
  • Don’t exercise at least 4 hours before bedtime
  • Sleep only when sleepy
  • Develop sleep rituals, such as listening to relaxing music, reading something soothing for 15 minutes, having a cup of caffeine-free tea and doing relaxation exercises
  • Have a light snack before bed: Good options include yogurt, bananas, whole-wheat cereal with skim milk, half a peanut butter sandwich or cherry juice.
  • Don’t watch TV or look at computer screens 1.5 hours before going to sleep.

Bottom Line:

There are only a few precautions and suggestions to decrease your risk of prostate and breast cancer.  One of the easiest and best is to get a good nights sleep or about 7-8 hours a night.

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