Skip to content

    Cancer Health Center

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    How Sleep Affects Cancer

    Poor Sleep Alters Hormones That Influence Cancer Cells

    Sleep, Stress, and Cancer

    Previous research, including some noted in Spiegel's study, shows that cancer patients who manage their stress in group therapy, with good social networks, or with regular exercise often fare better than patients who don't manage stress effectively.

    "We know that people who are depressed or anxious have a specific pattern of sleep disturbances. And if you had a bad night's sleep, you don't handle stress as well," says Spiegel. Conversely, those who better manage stress are more likely to have good sleep patterns.

    Just last week, Swedish researchers said women under a lot of stress may double their risk of breast cancer compared with those who remain calm when life throws them a curveball.

    "My advice for cancer patients is to try to handle stress well," says Spiegel. "By doing all the things your grandmother told you to do -- eat well, sleep well, and get plenty of exercise -- you're helping your body cope better with the disease."

    Does this mean that ensuring good sleep hygiene will become the big thing in cancer treatment? No, says Len Lichtenfeld, MD, of the American Cancer Society.

    "But is this important for people to remember? Yes," he tells WebMD.

    "The bottom line of this report is that there is enough information to take seriously the idea that how our bodies respond to cancer is influenced by more than just the surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation. It can be influenced by stress and sleep, and these are two pieces in the puzzle that shouldn't be overlooked."

    1 | 2

    Today on WebMD

    Colorectal cancer cells
    New! I AM Not Cancer Facebook Group
    Lung cancer xray
    See it in pictures, plus read the facts.
     
    sauteed cherry tomatoes
    Fight cancer one plate at a time.
    Ovarian cancer illustration
    Real Cancer Perspectives
     
    Jennifer Goodman Linn self-portrait
    Blog
    what is your cancer risk
    HEALTH CHECK
     
    colorectal cancer treatment advances
    Video
    breast cancer overview slideshow
    SLIDESHOW
     
    prostate cancer overview
    SLIDESHOW
    lung cancer overview slideshow
    SLIDESHOW
     
    ovarian cancer overview slideshow
    SLIDESHOW
    Actor Michael Douglas
    Article