Sleep duration and cancer risk in women

Cancer Causes Control. 2015 Jul;26(7):1037-45. doi: 10.1007/s10552-015-0579-3. Epub 2015 Apr 30.


Purpose: The objective was to conduct an analysis of sleep duration and risk of selected site-specific and groups of cancer among a large prospective cohort of California women.

Methods: The study population was comprised of 101,609 adult females participating in the California Teachers Study. All sites of invasive cancer prospectively diagnosed from baseline (1995-1996) through 2011 were identified through linkage to the California Cancer Registry (n = 12,322). Site-specific analyses focused on the following cancers: breast (n = 5,053), colorectal (n = 983), lung (n = 820), melanoma (n = 749), and endometrial (n = 957). Additionally, we evaluated a group of estrogen-mediated cancers consisting of breast, endometrial, and ovarian cancer (n = 6,458). Sleep duration was based on self-report of average time sleeping in the year prior to baseline. Cox proportional hazard models were used to calculate adjusted hazard ratios and 95 % confidence intervals (HRs, 95 % CI).

Results: Point estimates for all sites and site-specific cancers generally were near or below one for short sleepers (<6 h/night) and above one for long sleepers (10+ h/night); confidence intervals, however, were wide and included unity. Compared to average sleepers (7-9 h/night), long sleepers had an increased risk of the group of estrogen-mediated cancers (HR 1.22, 95 % CI 0.97-1.54, p (trend) = 0.04).

Conclusions: These analyses suggest that longer sleep may be associated with increased risks of estrogen-mediated cancers. Further studies with more refined measures of sleep duration and quality are warranted.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • California / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Self Report
  • Sleep*
  • Young Adult