Men who sleep less than 5 hours a night have 55% higher risk of prostate cancer

  • Men who sleep three to five hours per night raise their risk of prostate cancer by 55 percent
  • Sleeping six hours per night raises the risk by 29 percent
  • Lack of sleep inhibits melatonin production, which controls the sleep-wake cycle
  • Low melatonin levels can increase genetic mutations and reduce DNA repair

Getting a good night’s sleep is not only essential for being well-rested – it could mean the difference between life and death.

Sleeping less than five hours a night makes you twice as likely to develop prostate cancer.

Scientists say that men younger than 65 who are not getting the recommended seven hours of sleep are raising their risk of the hard-to-treat disease by 55 percent.

A new study has found that men younger than 65 years old who sleep five hours or less per night increase their risk of prostate cancer by 55 percent (file image)

A new study has found that men younger than 65 years old who sleep five hours or less per night increase their risk of prostate cancer by 55 percent (file image)

The study, conducted at the American Cancer Society in Atlanta, Georgia, examined data from two large, long-term cohort studies.

The first study followed more than 407,000 men between 1950 and 1972. The second followed more than 416,000 men from 1982 to 2012.

All the men were cancer-free when the studies began.

But more than 1,500 men in the first study and more than 8,700 men in the second study died of prostate cancer during the follow-up periods.

During the first eight years of follow-up, men younger than 65 years old who slept between three and five hours per night had a 55 percent greater risk of dying from prostate cancer than those who slept seven hours per night.


A machine that ‘sniffs’ out prostate cancer could spare men from painful and needless biopsies.

The urine test was devised to mimic the ability of dogs to diagnose prostate cancer with their noses.

Labradors and spaniels can be trained to sniff out 97 percent of cases. They sit up straight if a patient has the deadly disease and walk away if they are clear.

Researchers at Indiana University detected these molecules in 90 percent of men with prostate cancer.

In just a few years the breakthrough could spare many men a painful, intrusive biopsy, in which a needle is inserted into the prostate gland to remove tissue for assessment.

And six hours of sleep a night was linked to a 29 percent higher risk of prostate cancer death compared to seven hours, as prescribed by the National Sleep Foundation.

Those who were age 65 or older showed no difference in the risk of death from prostate cancer, no matter how much sleep they got.

Other than skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer in American men.

About six of 10 cases are diagnosed in men aged 65 or older.

Every year, about 26,700 men will die from the disease.

‘If confirmed in other studies, these findings would contribute to evidence suggesting the importance of obtaining adequate sleep for better health,’ said lead study author Dr Susan Gapstur, vice president of epidemiology at the American Cancer Society.

Dr Gapstur added, however, that more research is needed to better understand the biologic mechanisms, so sleep-deprived males shouldn’t be alarmed just yet.

Still, the findings contribute to evidence that the body’s natural sleep-wake cycle – called circadian rhythm – might play a role in prostate cancer development.

Not only does poor sleep turn off genes that protect against cancer growth, but past research has found that not getting enough shuteye can inhibit production of melatonin, a hormone that controls your sleep-wake cycle.

Low levels of melatonin can lead to an increase in genetic mutations, reduced DNA repair and a weakened immune system, according to Dr Gapstur.

And although the link between limited sleep and prostate cancer isn’t clear, Dr Gapstur says a possibility is that the natural decline in nighttime melatonin levels as you age can reduce the relative impact of lack of sleep.

Read more: