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Sleep apnea increases risk of stroke, cancer: study

April 30, 2014

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Sydney – Moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea has been linked to an increased risk of stroke, cancer, and even death, according to a new study from the University of Sydney in Australia. Obstructive sleep apnea is characterized by sudden breathing pauses during sleep.

Researchers followed up with 397 adults participating in the ongoing Busselton Health Study. In 1990, as part of the study, participants used a portable home sleep testing device. Data collected showed that 4.6 percent of participants had moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea, while 20.6 percent had mild OSA.

Twenty years later, researchers determined that the participants with moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea were nearly 4 times more likely to suffer a stroke, 2.5 times more likely to develop cancer, 3 times more likely to die from cancer and 4 times more likely to die.

The study is published in the April 15 issue of the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.