Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the U.S., killing more than 50,000 people every year.  Colon cancer usually begins as a small polyp or abnormal growth of tissue.  These polyps called adenomas grow unregulated and can become cancerous.  Although we know that routine colon cancer screenings can effectively cure colon cancer by removing polyps, a recent study has found a new way in which to decrease the amount of polyps formed.

Researchers at Case Western Reserve School of Medicine conducted a study, which suggests that lack of sleep can put people at a greater risk of developing colon polyps.  The study included 1,240 patients undergoing routine colonoscopy.  They found that patients who slept an average of less than 6 hours a night had a 50% greater chance of developing colon polyps.  The researchers concluded that lack of sleep is comparable to other known risk factors, including a diet high in meat and low in fiber and a family history of colon cancer.  Lack of sleep has already been linked to obesity, high blood pressure, and other cancers.  One theory as to why these complications may arise is that the production of melatonin is decreased with decreased sleep.  A lack of melatonin in the body may lead to a mutation in the DNA of certain cells and compromise immunity.

Although sleeping more may help to decrease the rate at which polyps develop, colon cancer still remains the second leading cause of cancer death.  Regular colon screens with colonoscopy are the only way proven to help prevent colon cancer from occurring.  March happens to be colon cancer awareness month, so if you or someone you know is age 50 or older and has not had a colonoscopy, recommending one may save their life.  Although age 50 is the recommended screening age for those people without a family history, there are other reasons to have a colonoscopy sooner than age 50, and you can find those reasons on my website.

So, try to eat a diet high in fiber, maintain your weight, and get plenty of sleep to help prevent colon polyps between your regularly scheduled colon screenings.

Disclaimer: The information presented on this website is not intended to take the place of your personal physician’s advice and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.  Discuss this information with your healthcare provider to determine what is right for you.  All information is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical condition