Obstructive sleep apnea and cancer: effects of intermittent hypoxia?

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Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a common disorder characterized by pauses in regular breathing. Apneic episodes lead to recurrent hypoxemia-reoxygenation cycles with concomitant cellular intermittent hypoxia. Studies suggest that intermittent hypoxia in OSA may influence tumorigenesis. This review presents recent articles on the potential role of OSA in cancer development. Relevant research has focused on: molecular pathways mediating the influence of intermittent hypoxia on tumor physiology, animal and epidemiological human studies linking OSA and cancer. Current data relating OSA to risk of neoplastic disease remain scarce, but recent studies reveal the potential for a strong relation. More work is, therefore, needed on the impact of OSA on many cancer-related aspects. Results may offer enlightenment for improved cancer diagnosis and treatment.

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