Less Sleep Might Mean Higher Risk of Aggressive Breast Cancer

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According to a new study and researchers from the University Hospitals Case Medical Center’s Seidman Cancer Center and the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center at Case Western Reserve University, getting too little sleep on a regular basis could possibly increase the risk of developing an aggressive form of breast cancer.

The study appears to demonstrate that in post menopausal breast cancer patients, the risk of recurrence increased when patients slept for six hours or less each night.

Dr. Li Li, M.D., PhD, a study researcher, made the following statement:  “”Effective intervention to increase duration of sleep and improve quality of sleep could be an under-appreciated avenue for reducing the risk of developing more aggressive breast cancers and recurrence.”

The study was published in Breast Cancer Research and Treatment and was conducted on 412 post-menopausal breast cancer patients.  All women in the study were tested with Oncotype DX, used to predict future cancer recurrence.  The women were also asked about their sleeping habits for the two years previous to the study.

A higher Oncotype DX score was associated with decreased sleep.  According to researcher Cheryl Thompson, PhD, the results show “”that lack of sufficient sleep may cause more aggressive tumors, but more research will need to be done to verify this finding and understand the causes of this association.”

Researchers also pointed out that no link was found between pre-menopausal breast cancer patients and aggressive breast cancer, which could imply that cancer behaves differently in women at different stages in their lives.

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