Fragmented sleep may accelerate tumor growth

Fragmented sleep may accelerate tumor growth

  • We have seen how sleeping provides many health benefits, from reducing stress, to controlling inflammation, and even increasing lifespan.
  • Getting good sleep is one of the simplest step we can take to improve our overall health.
  • The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that an estimated 50-70 million US adults have sleep or wakefulness disorder.
  • Poor sleep does not only cause health problems, but can make existing conditions or diseases even worse.
  • Fragmented sleep, or sleep with many awakenings can speed up the growth of cancers, and reduce the immune systems ability to get rid of cancers in their early stages, according to a recent study published on January 21, 2014 in The journal of Cancer Research.
  • This animal study is the first to show the effects of poor sleep on cancer growth, and may help for future advancements in cancer therapy.
  • It’s not the tumor, it’s the immune system,” stated the director of the study David Gozal, MD, who is the chairman of pediatrics at the University of Chicago Comer Children’s Hospital. “Fragmented sleep changes how the immune system deals with cancer in ways that make the disease more aggressive,” he adds.
  • Gozal also explained that the results of this study might help target a potential area for administering drugs. “Toll-like receptor 4, a biological messenger, helps control activation of the innate immune system. It appears to be a lynchpin for the cancer-promoting effects of sleep loss, said Gozal. The effects of fragmented sleep that we focused on were not seen in mice that lacked this protein,“he shares.
  • In the study, there were two groups of mice that were both injected with tumor cells. While sleeping, one group of mice was disturbed with a quiet brush every two minutes, forcing them to wake up and fall back asleep. The other group of mice was not disturbed.
  • The results showed that the tumors in the mice with poor sleep had tumors that were twice as large as the mice with good sleep. The team did a follow-up experiment, injecting tumor cells into the thigh muscle of the mice, which is supposed to help contain the tumors. However, the tumors in the mice with fragmented sleep became even more aggressive and spread throughout the adjacent tissues.
  • In that setting, tumors are usually encased by a capsule of surrounding tissue, like a scar. They form little spheres, with nice demarcation between cancerous and normal tissue. But in the fragmented-sleep mice, the tumors were much more invasive. They pushed through the capsule. They went into the muscle, into the bone. It was a mess,” says Gozal.
  • The study showed that the immune system worked more effectively in the mice with good sleep than the mice with bad sleep. Cells in the immune system called tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs) are the most important cells for responding to cancer, but they can react in different ways depending on the signals they receive. Some TAM’s called M1 are associated with a stronger immune response to the elimination of cancer. Others are called M2, which can encourage tumor growth.
  • The mice with good sleep had a high concentration of the good TAM’s (M1) in the tumors, and the mice with fragmented sleep had primarily M2-type TAM’s in their tumors.
  • This study offers biological plausibility to the epidemiological associations between perturbed sleep and cancer outcomes.
  • The take home message is to take care of your sleep quality and quantity like you take care of your bank account,” ends Gozal.
  • TIPS:
  • 1. Avoid alcohol and caffeine in the pm
  • 2. Try deep breathing or meditation to help you relax and fall asleep better.
  • 3. Never do strenuous exercise late in the pm as it will increase your energy level and will make it harder for you to fall asleep.
  • 4. Take a cup of warm chamomile tea or lavender tea to help you ease into a good sound sleep.
  • 5. Try our cumin tea sleep aid.
  • 6. You can also take some almond butter to supercharge your sleep.
  • Note: The content on our website is for educational purposes only. Please consult your health practitioner or a qualified expert.
  • For more tips by the National Sleep Foundation.
  • For the health benefits of sleeping.
  • For a cumin sleep aid tea.
  • Health benefits of lavender tea.
  • Health benefits of chamomile tea.
  • 1. Gozal, David, MD. “Fragmented Sleep Accelerates Tumor Growth and Progression through Recruitment of Tumor-associated Macrophages and TLR4 Signaling.” Cancer Research. Cancer Research, 21 Jan. 2014. Web. 30 Jan. 2014.
  • 2. “Fragmented Sleep Accelerates Cancer Growth.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, n.d. Web. 27 Jan. 2014.
  • 3. “Sleep and Sleep Disorders.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 13 Nov. 2013. Web. 30 Jan. 2014.
  • 4. “Insufficient sleep is a public disorder.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 13 Jan. 2014. Web. 30 Jan. 2014.


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