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William J. Gradishar, MD, FACP, FASCO


Potential Link Between Insomnia and Its Treatment and Risk of Breast Cancer in Women?

By: Kayci Reyer
Posted: Friday, March 18, 2022

According to research presented in Frontiers in Oncology, women with insomnia and/or hyperlipidemia as well as those who take sleeping medication may have an increased risk of breast cancer. Notably, the risk does not appear to be compounded for women with more than one of these characteristics, such as those who have insomnia and also may be taking medication to improve sleep. No relationship between mood disorders and increased breast cancer risk was observed.

“Administration of sleeping pills should be less encouraged in women, if still needed, and they should be referred to a breast cancer department for regular screening, as are those diagnosed with insomnia,” concluded Ming-Hsin Yeh, MD, PhD, of Chung Shan Medical University in Taiwan, and colleagues.

Conducted in Taiwan, the retrospective study enrolled 232,108 women who had been diagnosed with insomnia, depressive disorders, and mood disorders between January 1, 2000, and December 31, 2013. A substantially higher risk of breast cancer was independently associated with insomnia (adjust hazard ratio [aHR] = 1.16, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.07–1.27, P < .001) as well as the use of sleeping medication (aHR = 1.23, 95% CI = 1.13–1.35, P < .001). A potential correlation was also noted between an increased risk and hyperlipidemia, residence in a high urbanization area, and having a high annual insured amount greater than 20,000 New Taiwan dollars (aHR = 1.13, 95% CI = 1.01–1.27, P = .04; aHR = 1.41, 95% CI = 1.17–1.71, P < .001; aHR = 1.14, 95% CI = 1.02–1.29, P = .02, respectively).

The presence of mood disorders was not found to be associated with an increased breast cancer risk (aHR = 1.11, 95% CI = 0.91–1.34, P = 0.31). A relationship between depressive disorders, a subset of mood disorders, and increased risk for breast cancer was noted (aHR = 1.11, 95% CI = 0.99–1.25, P = 0.08). However, this relationship was not statistically significant.

Disclosure: The study authors reported no conflicts of interest.

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