Sleep Disruption and Cancer: Chicken or the Egg?

Berisha, Adrian, Shutkind, Kyle, Borniger, Jeremy C (May 2022) Sleep Disruption and Cancer: Chicken or the Egg? Frontiers in Neuroscience, 16. p. 856235. ISSN 1662-4548

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DOI: 10.3389/fnins.2022.856235


Sleep is a nearly ubiquitous phenomenon across the phylogenetic tree, highlighting its essential role in ensuring fitness across evolutionary time. Consequently, chronic disruption of the duration, timing, or structure of sleep can cause widespread problems in multiple physiological systems, including those that regulate energy balance, immune function, and cognitive capacity, among others. Many, if not all these systems, become altered throughout the course of cancer initiation, growth, metastatic spread, treatment, and recurrence. Recent work has demonstrated how changes in sleep influence the development of chronic diseases, including cancer, in both humans and animal models. A common finding is that for some cancers (e.g., breast), chronic disruption of sleep/wake states prior to disease onset is associated with an increased risk for cancer development. Additionally, sleep disruption after cancer initiation is often associated with worse outcomes. Recently, evidence suggesting that cancer itself can affect neuronal circuits controlling sleep and wakefulness has accumulated. Patients with cancer often report difficulty falling asleep, difficulty staying asleep, and severe fatigue, during and even years after treatment. In addition to the psychological stress associated with cancer, cancer itself may alter sleep homeostasis through changes to host physiology and via currently undefined mechanisms. Moreover, cancer treatments (e.g., chemotherapy, radiation, hormonal, and surgical) may further worsen sleep problems through complex biological processes yet to be fully understood. This results in a "chicken or the egg" phenomenon, where it is unclear whether sleep disruption promotes cancer or cancer reciprocally disrupts sleep. This review will discuss existing evidence for both hypotheses and present a framework through which the interactions between sleep and cancer can be dissociated and causally investigated.

Item Type: Paper
Subjects: diseases & disorders > cancer
diseases & disorders
diseases & disorders > mental disorders
diseases & disorders > mental disorders > sleep disorders
CSHL Authors:
Communities: CSHL labs > Borniger lab
CSHL Cancer Center Program
CSHL Cancer Center Program > Cellular Communication in Cancer Program
SWORD Depositor: CSHL Elements
Depositing User: CSHL Elements
Date: 19 May 2022
Date Deposited: 08 Jun 2022 18:44
Last Modified: 09 Feb 2024 17:11
PMCID: PMC9160986

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