London: Women with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) are more likely to be diagnosed with cancer than men with the condition, warn researchers.
Common symptoms of sleep apnea, include snoring, disrupted sleep and fatigue.
"Our study of more than 19,000 people shows that the severity of OSA is linked to a cancer diagnosis," said study lead author Athanasia Pataka, Assistant Professor at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece.
"This link was especially strong in the women that we analysed, and less so in the men, and the study suggests that severe OSA could be an indicator for cancer in women, though more research is needed to confirm these findings," Pataka explained.
In people suffering from OSA, the airways close completely or partially many times during sleep, reducing the levels of oxygen in the blood.
The researchers analysed data from 19,556 people (5,789 women and 13,767 men) included in the European Sleep Apnoea Database (ESADA) to explore the link between OSA severity, low blood oxygen levels and cancer development.
The researchers looked at the number of times the participants experienced partial or complete airways closure per hour of sleep, as well as the number of times their blood oxygen levels dropped below 90 per cent at night.
The data showed that 2.8 per cent of all women had been diagnosed with a serious cancer compared to 1.7 per cent of all men in the group.
The study, published in the European Respiratory Journal, suggests that people who experience more closures of the airways during sleep and whose blood oxygen saturation levels drop below 90 per cent more frequently are more likely to be diagnosed with cancer than people without OSA.