University of Iowa researchers looking into a link between sleep apnea, myeloma

Published: Apr. 29, 2019 at 3:59 AM CDT
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Myeloma is one of the ten deadliest cancers among women in Iowa. It's a deadly blood cancer that has no cure.

University of Iowa researchers are now linking sleep apnea and blood cancer which could make the treatment for it more effective.

Sleep Apnea is a disease where people stop breathing throughout the night. UI researchers said up to 25% of people have sleep apnea and it increases a person's chances of getting certain forms of cancer.

Researches used mice for the study. They took more than 60 and put them in a chamber to simulate sleep apnea conditions. After they injected them with myeloma cells, more than half of them developed cancer.

Previous research has linked sleep apnea to lung, breast and colon cancers, but this is the first time researches are tying it to a blood cancer.

The next step is seeing how this research can help humans.

"We're doing those first studies at the University of Iowa now,” said Melissa Bates an assistant professor of health and human physiology with the University of Iowa. “If we treat you for your sleep apnea, does it increase your response to chemotherapy.”

Researchers said this study will last more than two years. They are recommending all doctors ask cancer patients about sleep apnea.

Bates said sleep apnea can be treated.

"It's not trivial to treat it,” she said. “You wear a mask at night, and some patients find it uncomfortable. Some patients, partners are disturbed by them wearing the mask at night. So it's a commitment to doing the treatment.”