New research from Taiwan suggests that people with sleep apnea have nearly three times the normal risk of osteoporosis, particularly if they’re female and older. Sleep apnea isn't just snoring and frequent waking, it's a serious, potentially life-threatening disorder that causes interruptions of breathing during sleep. It may increase risks of high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke. The research team spent six years following 1,377 patients in Taiwan who were diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea, as well as 20,655 people without the sleep disorder. The investigators found that new cases of osteoporosis were 2.7 times higher among sleep apnea patients, than among people without the sleep disorder. This increased risk held true even after such factors as concurrent medical problems, age and gender were taken into account. Researcher Kai-Jen Tien, M.D., of Chi Mei Medical Center in Tainan, opined that when sleep apnea periodically deprives the body of oxygen, “it can weaken bones and raise the risk of osteoporosis.” The study was published online on April 15, 2014, in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.
Kai-Jen Tien et al, “Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Risk of Osteoporosis: A Population-Based Cohort Study in Taiwan,” The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, DOI: 10.1210/jc.2014-1718