It’s one of the easiest…not to mention the BEST…things we can do for our health.
It doesn’t cost a cent, and you don’t even have to go to the store to get it.
Yet somehow we often let it fall to the bottom of our priority list.
I’m talking about getting some good old shuteye.
Poor sleep linked to chronic disease and death!
And now a new study, published this month in the journal Cancer, has linked a lack of sleep to colon cancer.
Researchers from the Case Western University School of Medicine (CWUSM) found that if you’re averaging less than six hours of shuteye per night you have a staggering 50 percent increase in the risk for developing the precancerous tumors known as colorectal adenomas, as compared with individuals who are getting at least seven hours of sleep.
This, of course, is important because left untreated colorectal adenomas, or tumors, can turn into malignant colon cancer.
Less than 6 hours sleep linked to colon tumors
Of the 1,240 volunteers, 338 were diagnosed with tumors at their colonoscopy. The patients with the adenomas were found to have reported less than six hours of sleep on average.
The chief researcher on the CWUSM study, Dr. Li Li, M.D., Ph.D., said that the association between inadequate amounts of sleep and the precancerous tumors remained even after the researchers adjusted their data to include family history, smoking, and obesity.
In fact, according to Dr. Li, the increase in risk that they saw is comparable to the risk someone faces if a close relative… like a parent or sibling… has had colon cancer.
Low melatonin may be cause of tumors in poor sleepers
The researchers say that the rise in tumors may be because poor sleepers are simply not making enough of the DNA-repairing “sleep hormone” known as melatonin.
But, regardless, whether a lack of melatonin or some other not-yet-discovered factor is at play here, one thing’s for sure: This is a case where we can do something about the problem.
I know that I for one am guilty of not making sleep a high-enough priority in my life.
In fact, I must admit that just like good old Edgar Allen I sometimes think of sleep as the enemy. And I fight back by burning the candle at both ends at least a couple of times per week.
But after reading this study, I’m recommitting myself to getting a good night’s sleep. Won’t you join me for at least seven hours in La La Land this evening?
Because remember, despite what Poe may have said, it’s really the missed hours of sleep that are like little slices of death.
“Short duration of sleep increases risk of colorectal adenoma,” Cancer, Volume 117, Issue 4, pages 841–847, 15 February 2011
“Light at Night Causes Changes in Brain Linked to Depression,” Research Communications Ohio State University, presented at the Society for Neuroscience meeting in San Diego November 17, 2010
“Mortality Hazard Associated With Anxiolytic and Hypnotic Drug Use in the National Population Health Survey.” Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 2010; 55 (9)
“Long-term study links chronic insomnia to increased risk of death,” American Academy of Sleep Medicine (2010, June 15).
“Sleep duration predicts cardio vascular outcomes: a systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective studies,” Eur Heart J, February 7, 2011 doi: 10.1093/eurheartj/ehr007
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