Studies with lab rats suggest that a poor night's sleep can contribute to the growth rate of cancer.
Rats with cancer were tested in two groups: one with a full night's rest and the other with fragmented sleep (scientists woke the rats up periodically throughout their sleep).
FOX 29's Dr. Mike explains that the fragmented sleep affected the mice negatively because "it affects the ability of the immune system to fight off those tumor cells."
One psychiatrist, David Spiegel from Stanford University, believes that sleeplessness may be directly related to the risk of developing the disease in the first place.
"There is evidence that women who do night-time shift work are in increased risk of getting breast cancer, and the World Health Organization has classified shift work as a probable cause and risk factor for cancer," said Dr. Spiegel to medicaldaily.com.
The growth of the disease may also be linked to low cortisol levels associated with poor sleep. "What we find is that if cancer patients lose their duration of cortisol they're likely to die sooner," said Spiegel. "People who wake up repeatedly during the night tend to have more abnormal cortisol levels than others."