Photo: Getty Images
Lack of sleep is already known to cause diabetes, heart disease, obesity and even death. Now it has been shown to cause colon cancer too. Researchers from Case Medical Center and Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine found that people who had less than six hours sleep a night had a massive 50 percent increased risk of getting colorectal adenomas when compared with people who had a minimum of seven hours sleep per night.
Colorectal adenomas are not cancer but if they are left untreated they can turn into tumors and are a warning sign that cancer may develop.
Patients who were scheduled to have a colonoscopy were interviewed via telephone before the procedure was carried out and were asked questions from the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) about their sleeping patterns during the past month, whether they had any trouble sleeping and how many hours of sleep they got every night.
Of the 1,240 patients who had a colonoscopy, 338 were diagnosed with colorectal adenomas. The 338 were also found to have reported sleeping less than six hours a night, compared with patients who didn’t have adenomas. This was after researchers had taken into account other factors that could have caused it, such as family history of colon cancer, smoking and obesity.
Women had a slightly higher risk of colorectal adenomas due to lack of sleep than men.
"To our knowledge, this is the first study to report a significant association of sleep duration and colorectal adenomas," said Li Li, MD, PhD, the study's principal investigator, family medicine physician in the Department of Family Medicine at UH Case Medical Center and Associate Professor of Family Medicine, Epidemiology and Biostatistics at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. "A short amount of sleep can now be viewed as a new risk factor for the development of the development of colon cancer. Short sleep duration is a public health hazard leading not only to obesity, diabetes and coronary heart disease, but also, as we now have shown in this study, colon adenomas.