Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Short Sleep Adds to Colon Cancer Risk

A new study shows sleeping less than six hours per night may increase your risk to develop a key sign of early colon cancer by about 50 percent. Patients who reported short sleep durations are far more likely to be diagnosed with colorectal adenomas, a precursor to cancer tumors.

The study involved 1,240 patients scheduled for colonoscopies. The screening results found about 350 of the patients had colorectal adenomas.

Prior to the screening, each patient answered questions about sleep habits from the Pittsburg Sleep Quality Index. Patients reported their overall sleep quality during the past month, frequency of insomnia and other details related to sleep.

Study results show colorectal adenomas appeared more frequently among patients who said they slept fewer than six hours each night. The findings were adjusted for other risk factors for colon cancer, such as family history, smoking and obesity.

It’s still not known why short sleep duration may increase the risk for colon cancer. The lead author of the study speculates it may be because of the decrease in melatonin production or the increase in insulin resistance from sleep deprivation.

Colon cancer isn’t the only serious health risk related to sleeplessness. Short sleepers have a higher risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease. Last year a study found men with chronic insomnia have four times the risk of death compared to men who slept more than six hours per night.

The latest findings clearly demonstrate the importance of sleep to your overall health. Do your body a favor and make sleep a health priority, along with diet and exercise.

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