Sleep is important and I know the lack thereof can leave me functioning under par, so I am constantly trying to leave enough hours in my day to get a good night’s rest. For one of my friends, though, sleep doesn’t take priority. They watch How I Met Your Mother into the early morning hours, even though it causes them to sleep into the afternoon or walk around like a zombie if forced out of bed. Apart from a lack of focus, an inadequate amount of sleep is also linked to obesity, diabetes and heart disease. According to a new study to be published next week in the journal Cancer, we can now add colon cancer to that list.
Researchers from University Hospitals Case Medical Center and Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine found the risk for colorectal adenomas increased by almost 50 percent in individuals who average six hours of sleep a night, compared to those who average at least seven hours. Colorectal adenomas are a precursor to cancer tumours.
For this study, patients with scheduled colonoscopies were surveyed by phone and asked demographic questions, as well as questions from the Pittsburg Sleep Quality Index to determine their overall sleep quality.
Out of the 1,2440 patients surveyed, 338 were diagnosed with colorectal adenomas at their colonoscopy. The study found that association between amount of sleep and adenomas remained at almost 50 percent, even after taking in to consideration other factors that can increase a person’s risk, such as family history, smoking, and waist-to-hip ratio (a measurement of obesity). This association was found to be slightly stronger in women, but the difference was not statistically significant.
Dr. Li Li, the study’s principal investigator, said that a risk increase of this magnitude is comparable to the risk associated with having a parent or sibling with colon cancer, as well as high intake of red meat, according to a news release.
While it is not yet known why a few hours of sleep has such a drastic affect on risk level, Li suggested that it might be due to the decreased production of melatonin’a natural hormone linked to DNA repair or insulin resistance. Regardless, Li says, ‘Effective intervention to increase duration of sleep and improve quality of sleep could be an under-appreciated avenue for prevention of colorectal cancer.”
I’ll be making sure to tell my friend about this new study. How do you make sleep a priority? Share your sleep tips with us in the comments below.