New Study Suggests There May Be a Link Between Sleep Deprivation and Fatal Prostate Cancer

Not just a luxury any more. An adequate number of hours of sleep is not a luxury, it’s essential. A preliminary study suggests that for some men, the amount of sleep they get each night might even mean the difference between life and death.

A new preliminary study found that men younger than 65 who slept just three to five hours a night were 55 percent more likely to develop fatal prostate cancer than those who got the recommended seven hours of shuteye nightly.

Moreover, researchers in this study found that men who got six hours of sleep a night had a 29 percent higher risk of prostate cancer death compared to men who got seven hours of sleep.

The findings need to be confirmed by additional studies, but if confirmed in other studies, these findings would contribute to evidence suggesting the importance of obtaining adequate sleep for better health.

Much more research is needed to better understand the biologic mechanisms, but many experts consider the study “interesting” but not substantive enough to cause sleep-deprived males any alarm.
However, the findings from this study do contribute to evidence that the body’s natural sleep/wake cycle — circadian rhythms — might play a role in prostate cancer development.

The study results were concluded using an analysis of long-term data on more than 823,000 men in the United States. The findings were presented at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research.

It has long been known that lack of sleep can inhibit production of melatonin, a hormone that affects sleep cycles. When melatonin production is low, many experts believe that it can lead to an increase in genetic mutations, greater oxidative damage, reduced DNA repair and a weakened immune system. Some specialists believe that lack of sleep may also contribute to the disruption of genes involved in tumor suppression.

The National Sleep Foundation recommends adults get at least seven hours of sleep a night.

NOTE: Research presented at meetings should be considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.

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