Public education: chronic sleep deprivation increases the risk of cancer?

Put the promotion of science first for Cancer prevention and treatment! Science based cancer prevention knows no borders! The “Outline of the Healthy China 2030 Plan” proposes improving the public's awareness of the core information about cancer, promoting the concept of science based cancer prevention, and establishing a healthy lifestyle to effectively prevent and control cancer.

Based on the blueprint: “the Outline of the Healthy China 2030 Plan” , the Foreign Affairs Office of our hospital launched the English Contest on the promotion of Cancer Science in early April, to coincide with National Cancer Prevention and Control Publicity Week which started on the15th April. 

  This activity aims to improve the English communication ability of young and middle-aged medical technicians, strengthen the construction of an English talent pool, and cultivate a group of young leading talents with international vision and professional ability in our hospital, so as to build our hospital into a leading domestic and world-class cancer center., A total of 13 contributions were submitted from 9 departments comprising graphic and video works. After  evaluation by experts from our hospital, 1 first prize, 2 second prizes, 3 third prizes and 7 excellent contributions were awarded.

 First Prize Award

Feng Yujie   Department of Blood Transfusion

Master Degree  Technician

Dr. Feng Yujie, who was born in 1993, based her video work on the topic of Where has time gone? A Research Report of the Chinese Time use survey” which was jointly released by China Social Sciences Press and Inner Mongolia University on December 10, 2018. Her video work introduces the relationship between sleeping and cancer using information from a NASA satellite image of a Chinese city at night which has been transformed into a dynamic video.

According to the report, the rate of overtime work in China is 42.2 percent, and for practitioners whose work is related to the manufacturing industry, the probability of overtime is as high as 57.8%. According to the White Paper on Chinese People's Sleep during COVID- 19” released by the Chinese Sleep Research Society on March 14, 2020, 80% of people in our country have the habit of going to sleep late, of which 16% go to bed late every evening, and more than 50% of people go to bed after midnight. The International Agency for Research on CancerIARChas listed "shift work that disrupts biological diurnal patterns" as "most likely to be carcinogenic (Class 2A)" for humans. According to a study by the American Cancer Society (ACS), women who work night shifts have a 47 percent higher incidence of breast cancer than women who worked day shifts

Question 1: Is poor sleep related to cancer?

Answer: There are three reasons why this may be so: First, sleeping is directly related to the secretion of melatonin in human body, this can inhibit the secretion of estrogen, progesterone and prolactin reducing the possibility of estrogen induced cancer disorderin women. Moreover, melatonin has an antioxidant effect. Sleeping disorderlead to insufficient secretion of melatonin, so the body’s ability to inhibit these oxidative reactions is weakened, which may then also lead to the occurrence of cancer. Second, the occurrence of cancer is closely related to the body’s immune function. Immune cells are responsible for monitoring and removing cancerous cells in our body. If we stay up late for a prolonged period or suffer from chronic lack of sleep, the immune system will be suppressed, damaging the body's immune function., resulting in the proliferation of a large number of cancer cells. Third, long-term sleep deprivation will cause abnormal secretion of glucocorticoid hormones, which will lead to a blockage of the body’s metabolism and immune function. This is another important cancer inducing factor.

Question 2: How long is the normal biological sleeping time?

Answer: The existing research data shows that the average sleeping time among5-13 year old school children is steady at around 9 to 11 hours, which is conducive to the metabolism of hormones and the development of various tissues and organs. For 14 to 18 year-olds, the recommended sleeping time is around 7 to 8 hours. This can prevent malnutrition or gastrointestinal diseases and promote the development of the brain's nervous system and logical thinking. For adults aged 18-50 years old, the optimal sleeping time should be 6-8 hours in order to prevent clinically high-risk gastrointestinal diseases and allow for restoration and repair of cerebral nerves. The sleeping time of middle-aged and elderly people should be about 5-7 hours, which is conducive to prevention of the high incidence of Alzheimer's disease, cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases and other chronic metabolic disorders.

Question 3: What kind of interventions can improve the quality of sleep?

Answer: There are several suggestions that may improve the quality of sleep. For example, having a healthy daily routine and retiring early, relaxing before going to bed, avoiding excessive excitement or anxiety before sleeping, reducing the time spent using electronic products at night and improving the sleeping environment. Moderate exercise during the day can also help improve the quality of our sleep.

      World Health Organization (WHO) announced in 2000 that one third of cancercan be prevented, one third of cancercan be treated. Cancer can be preventable and treatable. So reducing the risk factors such as improving the quality of sleep and having a healthy daily routine may make this happen.