Studies suggest that people suffering from sleep-disordered breathing and resulting oxygen deprivation have an increased risk of developing cancer. Even worse, they may be up to five times more likely to die from the disease. This is because the lack of oxygen caused by Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) can be a catalyst for a process called neovascularization (the creation of new blood vessels), leading to new blood supplies that encourages tumor growth.
Symptoms of both oral cancer and sleep apnea should be screened for everyone, especially for heavy drinkers and tobacco users. Smoking, of course, is known for its carcinogenic properties, but perhaps more surprising is that around 70% of people diagnosed with oral cancer are heavy drinkers. Alcohol use is known to cause apneic events by relaxing muscles in the airway (this is particularly dangerous when people use alcohol to help get to sleep due to an already existing issue with sleep apnea). Irritation from cigarettes and other forms of tobacco may also cause airway inflammation which affects your ability to breathe easily.
Our doctors at Morris Park Dental screen all new patients for Obstructive Sleep Apnea as well as Oral Cancer as part of our comprehensive examinations. Early detection can add YEARS to your lifespan while significantly improving quality of life, and both OSA and Oral Cancer can exhibit symptoms that can be easily recognized during a regular check-up.