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Sleep Apnea Linked To Diabetes (Again)

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New research adds more evidence to the link between sleep problems and metabolic disorders like diabetes.

Moderate and severe obstructive sleep apnea are predictors of Type 2 diabetes, according to a new study presented at the ATS 2012 International Conference.

The researchers also found that the sleep condition and night-time hypoxemia (low oxygen levels in the blood) were linked with levels of glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1c), associated with diabetes.

Obstructive sleep apnea is a sleep condition that occurs when a person stops breathing during sleep because of obstructed sleep airways, according to the A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia.

"Our study shows that OSAS is independently associated with metabolic disturbances," study researcher Brian Kent, MBBCh, a research fellow at St. Vincent's University Hospital in Dublin, said in a statement. "This is important because individuals with T2DM [Type 2 diabetes mellitus] or elevated HbA1c levels are more likely to die of cardiovascular disease."

The study included 7,886 people who participated in overnight sleep studies at 22 sleep labs in Europe.

Past research has also shown a link between diabetes and sleep apnea -- a 2007 study from Yale researchers showed that the sleep condition raises the risk of diabetes by two-and-a-half times.

And in 2005, researchers found that treating sleep apnea could help blood sugar control in people with diabetes, WebMD reported.

Just this week, a study from researchers from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Medicine showed that sleep-disordered breathing -- which includes obstructive sleep apnea -- is linked with an increased risk of dying from cancer.

And an animal study earlier this year also demonstrated how sleep apnea can affect the brain's blood vessels -- by decreasing the "cerebral vessel dilatory function" (another way of saying that the blood vessels don't work as well as they're supposed to, which is a risk factor for stroke).

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