Send to

Choose Destination
Sleep. 2016 Aug 1;39(8):1493-500. doi: 10.5665/sleep.6004.

Sleep Apnea and Cancer: Analysis of a Nationwide Population Sample.

Author information

Sections of Pediatric Sleep Medicine and Pulmonology, Department of Pediatrics, Prizkter School of Medicine, Biological Sciences Division, The University of Chicago, Chicago, IL.
Center for Health and the Social Sciences, The University of Chicago, Chicago, IL.
Sleep Disorders Center and the Section of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Department of Medicine, The University of Chicago, Chicago, IL.



Epidemiological evidence from relatively small cohorts suggests that obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is associated with higher cancer incidence and mortality. Here we aimed to determine whether cancer incidence for major cancer types and risk of metastases or mortality from cancer are increased in the presence of OSA.


All OSA diagnoses included in an employee-sponsored health insurance database spanning the years 2003-2012 were identified and 1:1 matched demographically based on age, gender, and state of residence, or alternatively matched by comorbidities. The incidence of 12 types of cancer was assessed. In addition, another cohort of patients with a primary diagnosis of cancer was retrieved, and the risk of metastatic disease or cancer mortality was determined as a function of the presence or absence of OSA. Multivariate Cox proportional hazards regression models were fitted to assess the independent associations between OSA and outcomes of interest.


Based on a cohort of ∼5.6 million individuals, the incidence of all cancer diagnoses combined was similar in OSA and retrospectively matched cases. However, the adjusted risk of pancreatic and kidney cancer and melanoma were significantly higher in patients with OSA, while the risk of colorectal, breast, and prostate cancers appeared to be lower. Among individuals with a diagnosis of cancer, the presence of OSA was not associated with an increased risk for metastasis or death.


In a large nationally representative health insurance database, OSA appears to increase the risk for only a very selective number of cancer types, and does not appear to be associated with an increased risk of metastatic cancer or cancer-related deaths.


cancer; melanoma; pancreatic cancer; prevalence; sleep apnea

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Silverchair Information Systems Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center