A new study discovers that sleep is key to immune function and health, especially for patients battling melanoma. The study found that untreated cases of sleep apnoea are linked with more aggressive melanomas. The study author Dr Miguel Angel Martinez-Garcia from La Fe University and Polytechnic Hospital in Valencia, Spain said that “this is the first large, prospective multicentre study that was specifically constructed to look at the relationship between sleep apnoea and a specific cancer.”
He further states in a news release from the American Thoracic Society that "while more research is needed, this study shows that patients in the study had markers of poor prognosis for their melanoma. It also highlights the importance of diagnosing and treating sleep apnoea.” Researchers noted their finding of apnoea which was more common and severe for patients diagnosed with the most aggressive cancers despite factors such as age, gender, weight, and skin type and sun exposure.
Dr Michael Weinstein, who directs the sleep disorders centre at Winthrop University Hospital in Mineola, New York said "although the mechanism of this effect is unclear, these results add to the growing list of adverse effects of obstructive sleep apnoea and point out the central role that sleep plays in health.”
Martinez-Garcia advises "people who snore, frequently wake up at night or have daytime sleepiness should see a sleep specialist, especially if they have other risk factors for cancer or already have cancer.” Martinez-Garcia further states that "physicians – especially dermatologists, cancer surgeons and medical oncologists – should ask their patients about potential sleep apnoea symptoms, and refer them for a sleep study if they have these symptoms.”