Prostate cancer risk is 20% higher in men who wake up for 30 minutes at night

Researchers at the National Cancer Institute in Maryland, USA, have discovered that inadequate sleep could represent a major risk for prostate cancer, DailyMail reports. A recent study published in the “Journal of the National Cancer Institute” in Great Britain shows that men who wake up during the night for 30 minutes are 20% more likely to develop this disease.

Disturbed sleep can increase the risk of prostate cancer, archive photo

According to statistics, prostate cancer affects around 50,000 men every year in the UK and kills almost 12,000 men. The main risk factors include aging, a family history of the disease, obesity, and ethnicity (black men are twice as likely to develop the tumor).

Disturbed sleep has previously been proposed as a cause of prostate cancer, but most tests relied on patients accurately recalling how well they slept, a research method that is usually unreliable.

Experts from the National Cancer Institute in Maryland, USA, then analyzed data from 30,000 British men who did not have prostate cancer at the start of the study. During the research, they wore a watch-like monitor to measure nocturnal movements and sleep disturbances.

The results, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, showed that those who logged 30 minutes or more of wakefulness during the night had a 15 to 20 percent greater risk of developing a prostate tumor later in life.

Scientists believe the danger stems from disruption of the circadian rhythm – the body's internal clock – which in turn lowers levels of melatonin, the sleep-inducing hormone.

The study did not suggest any link between going to bed late and cancer, but it did find that the risks increased for men who tossed and turned constantly for at least half an hour after lights out.

In a report on the findings, the scientists stated: “These results suggest that frequent sleep disturbances may be a risk factor for prostate cancer.”