Sleep quality associated with inflammatory markers of breast cancer

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 (Image: Pixabay CC0) (Image: Pixabay CC0)

Poor sleep quality is associated with breast inflammation, a condition that can activate cascades of reactions leading to cancer

Poor sleep quality may promote inflammation of breast tissue and increase the risk of breast cancer, suggests an exploratory study published in the journal Cytokine. Indeed, the Laval University research team behind the study showed a correlation between sleep quality characteristics and certain inflammatory markers associated with breast cancer risk.

To demonstrate this, Sue-Ling Chang, Caroline Diorio and Francine Durocher, from the Faculty of Medicine and the CHU de Québec-Université Laval Research Centre, measured the abundance of 11 inflammatory markers in the breast tissue of 165 women.

The researchers also documented three characteristics of the participants’ sleep: average number of hours of sleep per night, frequency of insomnia episodes in the past month, and use of prescribed medication to aid sleep in the past year.

Their analyses revealed that:

  • Levels of three of the markers studied (IL-6, IL-10, CRP) were higher in participants who slept less than 7 hours or more than 9 hours per night
  • Gene expression of two markers (IL-6 and COX-2) was higher in participants who slept less than 7 hours or more than 9 hours per night
  • In postmenopausal women, as the frequency of insomnia increased, the level of the CRP marker was higher
  • In postmenopausal women, the use of sleep aids was associated with higher levels of the TGF-?

    "Our results will need to be confirmed in a larger cohort of women, but they suggest that poor sleep quality is associated with breast inflammation," summarizes Sue-Ling Chang. Studies have already shown that a chronic inflammatory state can activate cascades of reactions leading to cancers."

"Sleep is as important a component of cancer prevention as diet or physical activity."

Sleep problems affect about 30% of the population," says the researcher. They are more prevalent among women, with 46% of them reporting sleep problems every night.

Sleep is as important a component of cancer prevention as diet or physical activity," says Sue-Ling Chang. The issue of sleep quality should be addressed during medical visits. Since sleep is one of the lifestyle habits that can be modified, interventions to improve sleep quality could be considered as an approach to breast cancer prevention."