Study Finds New Risk Factor for Post-Menopausal Breast Cancer

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2012-08-28 13:15

Lack of sleep may seem like just an annoyance that makes you tired and cranky, but chronically inadequate sleep time does carry several health risks. A new study finds this particularly distressing for older women – lack of sleep appears to increase the risk of more severe breast cancer.

It is estimated that 50 to 70 million adults in the United States have chronic sleep difficulties. Sleep deprivation can lead to accidents, impaired attention and memory, and depression. Lack of sleep also increases the risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, and obesity.

In a first-of-its-kind study, Dr. Cheryl Thompson PhD and Dr. Li Li MD PhD of Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine analyzed medical records and survey responses from 412 post-menopausal breast cancer patients treated at UH Case Medical Center. All patients were recruited at diagnosis and asked about the average sleep duration for the past two years.

The women were given a widely utilized test called Oncotype DX which helps guide physicians in their treatment plans. It predicts the likelihood of cancer recurrence based on the expression level of a combination of 21 genes.

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