Preventing Cancer may be another reason to get more sleep

This weekend we've all heard about losing an hour's sleep, with the return to Daylight Saving time. Health researchers say a chronic lack of sleep can cause serious health problems, including increased risk for cancer.

Dr. Rich O'Neill, SUNY Upstate researcher who presents our weekly Healthy Decisions segment on NBC3's Weekend Today in CNY, says experiments with sleep deprived mice show they quickly develop cancerous tumors when injected with cancer cells. O'Neill says mice have the same biological pathway as humans, and the pathway is how our immune systems fight cancer cells.

O'Neill says sleep deprivation also:

Increases the chance of stroke by 4x

Increases obesity because of an increase in the hunger hormone ghrelin.

Increases the risk of colon cancer

Increases diabetes risk because of increased insulin resistance

Increases memory loss, and permanent cognitive loss and perhaps early brain deterioration

Increase osteoporoses and perhaps changes bone mineral density

Increase cardiac disease, with a 48% increase in early cardiac death

Scary statistics, certainly, but O'Neill says it does not mean you have to get 9 hours of sleep a night. He suggests you find out how much your body needs, by sleeping until you wake up, without an alarm clock, and once you figure your body's needs, try to go to sleep about the same time nightly and get up the same time, otherwise you create essentially jet lag on your body.

You can read the pretty technical medical paper in 'Cancer Research'