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Sleep Duration and Breast Cancer Risk

Posted 2/15/2013

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  This is an entirely new thought for me. I love to sleep. Getting into bed at night is one of my favorite moments of the day, and I especially like it during the winter when the flannel sheets and flannel-covered duvet welcome me. Also like it during the summer when there are fresh linen sheets on the bed (if you don't have any of those, I recommend them. They are fairly expensive, but seem to last forever and get softer and softer and softer.) I am almost always a world-class sleeper--a fact that drives my husband, who is a light and short sleeper, completely crazy with jealousy (or at least that is how I like to think of it). It never has occured to me, until seeing this Australian study, that longer sleeping might reduce risk for breast cancer.

  Per this study, it turns out that it really doesn't, but somehow thought enough of the possibility to fund and direct and write up this report. If the results were different, and it looked as though poor sleep was a risk factor, that would have been one more thing to use to "blame the victim." Think about it:: if you are lying there, not sleeping, already worrying about one thing or another, how is it helpful to add worry about breast cancer to those wide-awake nocturnal moments? Here is the abstract and a link:

Self-reported Sleep Duration, Sleep Quality, and Breast Cancer Risk in a

Population-based Case-Control Study

Jennifer Girschik*, Jane Heyworth, and Lin Fritschi

Breast cancer is one of the most commonly diagnosed invasive cancers. Established risk factors account for

only a small proportion of cases. Previous studies have found reductions in sleep duration and quality in the

general population over time. There is evidence to suggest a link between poor sleep and an increased risk of

breast cancer. In this study, we investigated the relationship between breast cancer and sleep duration and

quality in Western Australian women. Data were obtained from a population-based case-control study conducted

from 2009 to 2011. Participants completed a self-administered questionnaire that included questions on sleep.

Odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals were calculated using unconditional logistic regression. Sensitivity

analysis for potential selection and misclassification bias was also conducted. We found no association between

self-reported sleep duration on workdays and risk of breast cancer (for <6 hours, odds ratio (OR) = 1.05 (95%

CI: 0.82, 1.33); for 6–7 hours, OR = 0.96 (95% CI: 0.80, 1.16); and for >8 hours, OR = 1.10 (95% CI: 0.87, 1.39),

compared with the reference category of 7–8 hours’ sleep). In addition, we found no association between sleep

duration on nonworkdays, subjective sleep quality, or combined duration and quality and risk of breast cancer.

This study does not provide evidence to support an association between self-reported sleep duration or quality      

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and the risk of breast cancer.


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