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Colon cancer

Lack of sleep greatly raises the risk for colon cancer

Thursday, February 17, 2011 by: Sherry Baker, Health Sciences Editor
Tags: colon cancer, sleep, health news

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(NewsTarget) (NaturalNews) Colon cancer is the third leading cause of death in the US. But this potentially deadly disease doesn't just strike out of the blue -- for the most part, it can be prevented in the first place with healthy lifestyle choices. As NaturalNews has covered extensively, strategies like regular exercise, eating a high fiber diet, and taking omega-3s can greatly lower your chance of ever having a colon malignancy. And now comes word of yet another natural way to zap the risk of colon cancer -- just get enough sleep.

That's right. Simply getting enough restful shut-eye, it turns out, is a powerful way to prevent colon cancer.

Sleep is part of a healthy, natural lifestyle that is too often ignored. And that can be dangerous to your health. A lack of sleep has previously been linked to heightened risks of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, and death from all causes. New ground-breaking research just published in the journal Cancer by researchers from University Hospitals (UH) Case Medical Center and Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine found people who get less than six hours of sleep at night had an almost 50 percent increase in the risk of colorectal adenomas compared with individuals sleeping at least seven hours per night. Adenomas are precancerous polyps that, left untreated, can turn malignant.

"To our knowledge, this is the first study to report a significant association of sleep duration and colorectal adenomas," Li Li, MD, PhD, the study's principal investigator and Associate Professor of Family Medicine, Epidemiology and Biostatistics at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, said in a statement to the media. "A short amount of sleep can now be viewed as a new risk factor for the development of the development of colon cancer."

Research participants were surveyed by phone before undergoing scheduled colonoscopies at UH Case Medical Center. They were asked for demographic information and questioned about their overall sleep quality during the past month, using the Pittsburg Sleep Quality Index (PSQI). The PSQI asks questions such as how frequently a person has trouble sleeping and how many hours a night a person sleeps.

Out of the 1,240 patients in the study, 338 had colorectal adenomas discovered at their colonoscopies. And the people with the precancerous polyps were found in general to have reported sleeping less than six hours compared to those patients without adenomas. This association between less sleep and adenomas remained even when adjustments were made for family history, smoking, and obesity.

Dr Li notes that the dramatic increase in risk due to less hours of sleep is comparable to the risk associated with having a first-degree relative who has had colon cancer, as well as with the colon cancer risk of eating a lot of red meat. "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," Dr. Li concluded. "Effective intervention to increase duration of sleep and improve quality of sleep could be an under-appreciated avenue for prevention of colorectal cancer."

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About the author

Sherry Baker is a widely published writer whose work has appeared in Newsweek, Health, the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, Yoga Journal, Optometry, Atlanta, Arthritis Today, Natural Healing Newsletter, OMNI, UCLA's "Healthy Years" newsletter, Mount Sinai School of Medicine's "Focus on Health Aging" newsletter, the Cleveland Clinic's "Men's Health Advisor" newsletter and many others.

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