According to a recent study, people who sleep less than six hours a night are more prone to gain polyps in their colon or rectum as compared to those who sleep more than six hours a night.
Polyps, which are also known as colorectal adenoids, leads to become cancerous tumors in a minimum of 10% cases. They are thus “precancerous” polyps.
The results of the study did not affirm that less sleep led to the polyps to arise. But the researchers stated in the journal Cancer that this finding was the first to show an individual’s sleep linked with the risk of colorectal adenoids, but the research had to be reconfirmed by other studies.
Yet, the researchers stressed that people sleeping less may be prone to develop colorectal cancer as other high-risk groups – which include genetic reasons, and high intake of red meat in a diet.
The reason behind sleep causing polyps is not yet determined, Dr. Li said.
One theory was related to poor sleep linked to obesity and insulin resistance, both of which lead to an increase risk of colorectal cancer.
Another evidence given was that the sleep hormone called melatonin may guard against colorectal tumors, Dr. Li said.
The National Cancer Institute said that over 140,000 US citizens will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer this year, while at least 51,000 will die from the disease.
The recent study by Dr. Li and his colleagues undertook 1,240 men and women who were being checked for colonoscopy. Before the examination, the volunteers took a number of tests, which included blood work and a detailed behavior survey where they answered question related to their sleeping habits.
The researchers found that in 338 people adenoids existed. The sleeping patterns of these people were less than six hours. The researchers said that it looked like an effect of sleep may reflect sleep as a cause.
“Although the authors mention that sleep may need to be considered as a risk factor,” Dr. Li said, “I think there’s a lot more work that has to be done before we can endorse that position.”