Untreated sleep apnea may accelerate aging of cells

If left untreated, sleep apnea and similar disorders may accelerate the aging process for cells, according to new research from scientists at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and colleagues.

The study, which included 622 men and women who had not previously been diagnosed with or were being treated for sleep-disordered breathing, found evidence of early aging of the DNA within cells among participants, a process known as epigenetic aging.

Xiaoyu Li, a postdoctoral research fellow at the School, noted in a June 14, 2019 Everyday Health article that epigenetic changes are reversible and that improving one’s sleep could help undo the damage.

“Traditionally, we don’t give as much attention to sleep as we do to exercise or smoking,” Li said. “But it’s another modifiable risk factor, like smoking, physical inactivity, or poor diet.”

Read the Everyday Health article: Undiagnosed Sleep Apnea Linked to Accelerated Aging, New Study Finds