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Struggles With Sleep Linked to Heart Disease Risk

Sleep study 1Adults who get too much or too little sleep may have the beginnings of “hardening” of the arteries, which can be an early sign of heart disease, according to a new study.

“Many people, up to one third or one fourth of the general population, suffer from inadequate sleep – either insufficient duration of sleep or poor quality of sleep,” said co-lead author Dr. Chan-Won Kim of Kangbuk Samsung Hospital of Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine in Seoul, South Korea.

Several studies have linked inadequate sleep with an increased risk of heart attack and stroke, but other conditions like depression or obesity could influence this association, Kim told Reuters Health by email. sleep study 3 

“In contrast, we studied if sleep of inadequate duration or quality would be linked to early markers of heart disease in asymptomatic healthy adults free of heart disease,” Kim said.

For the study, more than 47,000 men and women, age 42 on average, completed a sleep questionnaire and had tests to detect lesions of calcium and plaque in the artery leading to the heart, an early sign of disease, and arterial stiffness in the leg, a sign of vascular aging.

According to their questionnaires, the participants’ average sleep duration was 6.4 hours per night, and about 84 percent said their sleep quality was “good.” The researchers considered those who got five hours or less per night to be “short” sleepers, and those who got nine or more hours to be “long” sleepers.

sleep study 2Short sleepers had 50 percent more calcium in their coronary arteries than those who slept for seven hours per night, according to the results in Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology. Long sleepers had 70 percent more calcium than those who slept seven hours.

“The associations of too short or too long sleep duration and of poor sleep quality with early indicators of heart disease, such as coronary calcium and arterial stiffness, provides strong support to the increasing body of evidence that links inadequate sleep with an increased risk of heart attacks,” Kim said.

Source: Reuters

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Poor Sleeping Patterns Link to Cancer

Sleep 1Irregular sleeping patterns have been “unequivocally” shown to lead to cancer in tests on mice, a study suggests.

The report, in Current Biology, lends weight to concerns about the damaging impact of shift work on health.

The researchers said women with a family risk of breast cancer should never work shifts, but cautioned that further tests in people were needed.

The data also indicated the animals were 20% heavier despite eating the same amount of food.

Studies in people have often suggested a higher risk of diseases such as breast cancer in shift workers and flight attendants.

sleep 2One argument is disrupting the body’s internal rhythm – or body clock – increases the risk of disease.

However, the link is uncertain because the type of person who works shifts may also be more likely to develop cancer due to factors such as social class, activity levels or the amount of vitamin D they get.

Mice prone to developing breast cancer had their body clock delayed by 12 hours every week for a year.

Normally they had tumors after 50 weeks – but with regular disruption to their sleeping patterns, the tumors appeared eight weeks earlier.

The report said: “This is the first study that unequivocally shows a link between chronic light-dark inversions and breast cancer development.”

Interpreting the consequences for humans is fraught with difficulty, but the researchers guesstimated the equivalent sleep 3effect could be an extra 10kg (1st 8lb) of body weight or for at-risk women getting cancer about five years earlier.

“If you had a situation where a family is at risk for breast cancer, I would certainly advise those people not to work as a flight attendant or to do shift work,” one of the researchers, Gijsbetus van der Horst, from the Erasmus University Medical Centre, in the Netherlands, said.

Dr Michael Hastings, from the UK’s Medical Research Council, told the BBC: “I consider this study to give the definitive experimental proof, in mouse models, that circadian [body clock] disruption can accelerate the development of breast cancer.sleep 4

“The general public health message coming out of my area of work is shift work, particularly rotational shift work is a stress and therefore it has consequences.

“There are things people should be looking out for – pay more attention to your body weight, pay more attention to inspecting breasts, and employers should offer more in-work health checks.

“If we’re going to do it, then let’s keep an eye on people and inform them.”

Source: BBC