Poor sleep linked to cancer – Shift workers are particularly warned.

In a week when the daily press headlines were full of a major treatment breakthrough by the University of Sheffield for the prevention of breast cancer, other information that was published by the BBC, referring to new reports that state disturbed sleep patterns to be one of the key causes.

offline beauty woman sleep on the pillow

Irregular sleeping patterns have been “unequivocally” shown to lead to cancer in tests on animals, a study suggests and the report, published in Current Biology, lends weight to these concerns about the damaging impact of shift work on health.

The researchers said women with a family risk of breast cancer should never work shifts, but cautioned that further tests in people were needed.

Studies in people have often suggested a higher risk of diseases such as breast cancer in shift workers and flight attendants.

One argument is disrupting the body’s internal rhythm – or body clock – increases the risk of disease.  However, the link is uncertain because the type of person who works shifts may also be more likely to develop cancer due to factors such as social class, activity levels or the amount of vitamin D they get.

Mice prone to developing breast cancer had their body clock delayed by 12 hours every week for a year. Normally they had tumours after 50 weeks – but with regular disruption to their sleeping patterns, the tumours appeared eight weeks earlier.

The report said: “This is the first study that unequivocally shows a link between chronic light-dark inversions and breast cancer development.”

Interpreting the consequences for humans is fraught with difficulty, but the researchers guesstimated the equivalent effect could be an extra 10kg (1st 8lb) of body weight or for at-risk women getting cancer about five years earlier.

“If you have a situation where a family is at risk for breast cancer, I would certainly advise those people not to work as a flight attendant or to do shift work,” one of the researchers from the Erasmus University Medical Centre, in the Netherlands, said.

Dr Michael Hastings, from the UK’s Medical Research Council, told the BBC: “I consider this study to give the definitive experimental proof that circadian [body clock] disruption can accelerate the development of breast cancer.

“The general public health message coming out of my area of work is shift work, particularly rotational shift work, is a major area o stress and therefore it has far-reaching consequences.

“There are things people should be looking out for – such as paying more attention to your body weight, paying more attention to inspecting breasts, and employers should offer more in-work health checks for their staff. They should try to eliminate problems such as snoring by using an oral appliance.

The data also indicated the animals were 20% heavier despite eating the same amount of food. Being overweight is known to be a key factor. A clear indication of weight gain is always snoring as the tissue tends to close the throat and make the passage of the airflow constricted, resulting in the sound we all know so well, and constantly hear more of.

This is of particular concern at the moment when so much new information is coming to our attention on weight gain – particularly amongst the young. More than a third of overweight or obese teenagers don’t think they are too heavy and consider their weight to be about right, according to a study. Cancer experts say the findings are worrying because carrying excess weight increases the chance of developing many cancers.

Other reports show that many are binge eaters, and also have a sugar intake that is far too high – both of which exacerbate the problem. As a consequence more and more teenagers snore – yet they or their parents do nothing about it when simple solutions are there to help them.

Of course the key solutions are healthier diet and more exercise, but it’s also important to restrict the damage being done by restriction of oxygen due to being overweight.

Use of a simple oral appliance, similar to a sports gum-shield, or even using a Chin Strap, both of which can be worn comfortably when sleeping, will stop most people snoring immediately, and prevent this early damage to health until weight is under control.

John Redfern.

Don’t ignore the sound of snoring – it’s the fire alarm for your health.

Snoring is now at world epidemic levels, with about 4 in 10 men and 3 in 10 women being affected and it’s often related to obesity and weight gain. It’s a true worldwide problem and affects all the major nations. When your throat narrows due to weight gain, then airflow is restricted and you snore.

Fitness Instructor Addressing Overweight People At Diet Club

Untreated snoring can lead to many serious health problems, such as diabetes, cardiovascular problems, hypertension, depression, chronic fatigue, cancer, earlier onset of memory loss, and major liver damage. The worse cases of snoring develop into obstructive sleep apnoea, (OSA) and as an example of this, 34% of men and 17% of women in the USA alone suffer from obstructive sleep apnea in all its possible degrees of severity.

Not only that, but the United States is home to the highest proportion of the world’s obese people, at 13 per cent. Similar weight-related problem exists worldwide. Numerically, more than 50 per cent of the world’s 671 million obese people live in 10 countries: the United States, China, India, Russia, Brazil, Mexico, Egypt, Germany, Pakistan and Indonesia.

Even in countries such as Australia which projects an image of being a health-conscious, fitness-oriented, sports loving nation – the problem exists. But experts say that Australia’s unprecedented affluence along with a culture of convenience foods, growing portion sizes and an increasingly sedentary life-style have made one in two Australians overweight and turned the country into one of the fattest in the world.

Worse still, while studies show that obesity rates in other developed countries like the US have begun to level off, those of Australia are still rising. Last year, it climbed to 4th in the ranking of advanced nations with the largest proportion of obese citizens at 28.3%, behind the USA, Mexico and New Zealand.

A spokesperson for the Australian Department of Health, says the government has already committed A$932m to initiatives and media campaigns targeting health education and promoting healthy choices. The government has also updated physical activity and dietary guidelines. Initiatives are also taking place at state level, like in New South Wales – where officials say obesity costs the state approximately A$20bn every year. With nearly 11 million overweight Australians and obesity-related diseases on the rise, perhaps even more serious measures are needed before it gets worse.

Exactly the same problems exist in the UK and press focus this week has been very much on the subject – particularly amongst children of all ages, and the amount of their sugar intake from soft drinks and other products.

University College London researchers looked at data from more than 56,000 people born in Britain since the end of WW2 and found a clear shift over time, with obesity becoming more common and starting earlier in life. Obese children often go on to be obese adults, carrying with them an increased risk of heart disease and diabetes.

The first, post-War male babies did not become overweight until they hit the age of 40, on average, the report said – but the next two generations of men got fatter younger, at a median age of 33 and 30, respectively.

The trend was the same for women. By the third generation babies born in the 1970s, the median age for becoming overweight was 41, compared with 48 for those born in 1946 and 44 for those born in 1958.

By the fourth generation, obesity was becoming common in childhood.
Children born since the 1980s were up to three times more likely than older generations to be overweight or obese by the age of 10, and latest figures for England suggest a fifth of children joining primary school are now obese or overweight at age 5.

A spokesman for Public Health England, said: “Evidence shows children of obese parents are much more likely to have weight problems, which is a major concern when almost two-thirds of adults are overweight or obese.

“Almost one in 10 children aged 5 are obese – but what’s worse is that by the time they reach 11, this doubles to nearly one in five.” “Obese children are more likely to experience bullying, low self-esteem, anxiety, depression and have a higher risk of developing diabetes and heart disease.” Teenagers are not easily directed and it was clear that the 11- to 15-year-olds were the most vulnerable and difficult group.

The UK government has already launched a number of initiatives to help people eat more healthily and be more active, and others are planned, as it is already costing the NHS £billions per year.

John Redfern

Taking good care of your SleepPro mouthpiece brings benefits

Summer is here at last but it has its downside too. The hot, humid weather made for uncomfortable nights but they also need you take more care with hygiene as germs breed more rapidly when it’s hot.

Human holding toothbrush in water

It’s important to keep your mouthpiece clean and free of germs. SleepPro oral appliances are made from the same base material and can be cleaned in exactly the same way.

When you wake up, remove your SleepPro and wash it thoroughly in clean water – hold it under the running tap and wash it gently but make sure that the water is only lukewarm– and afterwards try using a toothbrush to help remove any deposits within the teeth imprints. However do NOT try to use toothpaste to clean your SleepPro as this will score the surface of the mouthpiece and make it more susceptible to staining in the future.

After cleaning in this way, a brief soak in mouthwash or using a denture cleaner will help to keep it fresh, but be careful what you use as over time, some of the chemicals in those products may degrade the plastic and reduce it’s life expectancy. Our own tablets, Fresh & Clean are specially formulated not to do this, and are available in packs of 20 for very little cost.

Fresh & Clean have been specially formulated to gently clean your SleepPro appliance and to leave it tasting minty fresh. They have been well tested and they do not accelerate the degrading of the appliance like some of the over the counter products – particularly the cheaper ones. They’ll remove any stubborn stains that remain.

Use them daily for the best results and a refreshing minty taste.

Keep your teeth and gums healthy and for that it’s always recommended that you:

  • Brush your teeth well last thing at night with fluoride toothpaste before using your SleepPro mouthpiece
  • Clean in between your teeth with ‘interdental’ brushes or floss – as brushing alone only cleans about 60 per cent of the tooth surface
  • Use a mouthwash that contains antibacterial ingredients to help prevent gum disease, and contains fluoride to help prevent decay.

Then follow the morning routine as previously described o keep your SleepPro mouthpiece in the very best condition.

Don’t forget that you can now protect yourself even more from stubborn oral germs – particularly in the very hot weather we’re having, and even more so if you’re heading for holidays in a hot climate.

Easifit and Custom are the two leading NHS Approved appliances from SleepPro and both are now available in AM versions – meaning that they are anti-microbial due to added special polymer that will kill any bug that contacts their surface. The AM version is in both cases only £10 extra so it’s well worth paying.

This new AM technology will not only make your SleepPro mouthpiece much more hygienic, but it will keep it fresher for longer, as well as protecting both the surface of the appliance and also help to preserve a good comfortable fit.  It will provide long-lasting hygienic protection by creating a surface barrier upon which microbes cannot survive and will also extend the lifetime of the product as well as helping to safeguard your teeth.

They’re fully approved by the NHS who regularly issue them direct to snoring and sleep apnoea sufferers in many hospitals – and as well as stopping you from snoring, they’ll now protect you from most germs and infections. Don’t forget that a weekly soak in Fresh & Clean will keep them at their best.

John Redfern

How to sleep better in hot weather

people, family, bedtime and insomnia concept - unhappy woman having sleepless night with sleeping and snoring man in bed at home

Britain has experienced a mini heat wave this week so what’s the best way to get to sleep on those dreadfully sticky nights?

The hot, humid weather across most parts of Britain has made for some very uncomfortable nights. The Met Office says temperatures will now fall slightly across the next few weeks but humidity will remain fairly high at 60-80%.

“As a species, we are diurnal,” says Dr Malcolm von Schantz, a molecular neuroscientist at the University of Surrey’s Sleep Centre. “We have evolved to be able to sleep in a consolidated way during the night, when it is cooler and darker. Too cold or too hot temperatures during the night act as a natural alarm clock.

Humidity is a big part of the problem, making it hard for sweat to evaporate. For many, getting to sleep will have been sweaty and uncomfortable, closer to the climate people associate more with Bangkok than Bangor, either in Northern Ireland or Wales.

Add to that the common congestion problems of one sort or another that are caused by hot, humid weather, and many people, even when they do sleep, will begin to snore loudly with their partners suffering in the process.

Women are known to need more sleep than men although men often sleep better, and when you start to dig into the facts about men and women’s respective sleep habits it’s startling just how badly women fare when it comes to shut-eye. Dr Jim Horne, who is the Director of Sleep Research Centre at Loughborough University, says that women need an extra 20 minutes of sleep a day compared to men.

He says that in part this is because women use their brains more during the day. As one of the key functions of sleep is to allow the brain to rest and repair, all of that extra multitasking means women need to sleep more. In fact, women lose out in nearly all of the major sleep-related conditions.

Insomnia?  According to the National Sleep Federation, 63% of women experience it a few times a week, compared to 54% of men.
Pain during sleep?  58% of women said that pain interrupted their sleep at least three nights per week, compared to 48% of men.

Sleep apnoea? This is the only sleep condition where men ‘excel’ over women with men being twice as likely to suffer. However, some researchers have suggested that the condition may simply present differently in women and actually be just as much of an issue for them as men.

In places like the USA, where powerful air conditioning units are reasonably common in houses and apartments in hot and humid areas, it’s not so much of a concern. But in places like the UK where it’s hot and humid much less frequently how should people ensure they get a good night’s sleep?

An technique that is often used in Mediterranean countries, is to make sure that all the blinds or curtains are closed during the daytime to stop the sun coming in. Leave the windows open on the shady side and closed on the sunny side and change them over when it’s necessary. Then, an hour before going to bed, open all the windows to get a through breeze.

But not everyone has the luxury of being able to throw open windows, as it may not be safe. Bungalows, ground floor flats and basements can be vulnerable to burglary. Others may worry about insect bites, particularly now there are so many mosquitoes to be found in the UK.

In this case, the most sensible option is to use an electric fan, recommends Mary Morrell, Professor of Sleep and Respiratory Physiology at Imperial College in London. ” Air flow is very important and it will help move the air around your body and increase the chance of sweat evaporating.”

She also recommends thin cotton sheets rather than nylon bedding. They will absorb sweat rather than leave the sleeper covered in a film of moisture.

Insects are unlikely to bother people in cities, she believes. But for those in the countryside with the windows open, a mosquito net is one possible solution. Hot days also mean we get into bed in a different physical and mental state. Often people have drunk more alcohol than usual and that is never a good idea, particularly as it makes snoring much worse. Alcohol is pretty good at putting you to sleep but pretty awful at keeping you asleep.

Solving the snoring problem is easy however, and of course it’s not confined to just hot weather; it happens all the time. Once again good airflow is the solution and easily achieved with a simple oral appliance.

John Redfern.