Why Prostate and Breast Cancer Lead to Insomnia

By Dr. Artour Rakhimov (www.NormalBreathing.com)

Very recent medical studies shown that people with breast and prostate cancers have poor quality of sleep (Hanisch et al, 2011).The problems with insomnia gets particularly worse after the radiation therapy (Garrett et al, 2011; Miaskowski et al, 2011; Sprod et al, 2010; Thomas et al, 2010). What are the causes of insomnia in these groups of people? Why radiation therapy worsen quality of sleep?

There are no clear answers to these and many other questions from official medical sources. However, there is a valuable clinical experience of more than 180 Russian medical doctors that provides answers and solutions to these questions. These doctors practice breathing retraining methods, and, therefore, let us focus on breathing, its effects on the body and sleep.

It is easy to notice that sleep quality always worsens when people breathe faster and deeper during sleep. Supine sleep and mouth breathing, which are very common these days, are most likely factors of these sleep heavy breathing effect. However, there are many other factors involved.

Do people with cancer have abnormal breathing during daytime? Several published studies found that when cancer advances people breathe much faster. Measurements show that their breathing frequencies are about 24-40 inhalations per minute or more.These are obviously abnormally large numbers. The biological norm for humans is only 12 breaths per minute at rest.

Why fast or deep breathing worsen sleep

There are many effects of heavy breathing. Since heavy breathing reduces CO2 levels in the arterial blood of cancer patients, hypocapnia (CO2 deficiency) immediately reduces oxygen release in tissues. Red blood cells require high CO2 levels in cells in order to release oxygen there. As a result, less oxygen left by red blood cells in tissues.

Another effect relates to vasodilation. Co2 is a powerful dilator of blood vessels. For this reason, chronic over-breathing produces hypocapnic constriction of arteries and arterioles.

You may know that most people can easily faint if they breathe heavily for 2-3 minutes. This happens due to constriction of blood vessels. Less glucose and oxygen is transported to the human brain as a result of low CO2 in the blood.

The image above shows oxygen levels in a section of the brain in normal conditions and after one minute of hyperventilation (about 50% less O2 in the nerve cells).

Can overbreathing provide the human blood with more oxygen? When we have normal diaphragmatic breathing, we get nearly highest possible blood oxygenation. It is about 98-99%. However, when people start to breathe more air during automatic or unconscious breathing, they usually become chest breathers and this reduces oxygen supply to the bottom of the lungs.

These effects are known in the respiratory physiology. Hundreds of medical studies proved and showed that hyperventilation causes tissue hypoxia (reduced oxygen levels in cells).

If the brain becomes hypoxia due to effects of heavy breathing, cells switch to anaerobic respiration. This leads to generation of free radicals and acidic pH in cells.

CO2 also has direct effects on brain cells. It is a calmative and tranquilizer for all nerve cells. Anxiety, panic attacks, phobias and even seizures are easily triggered by breathing more air. Low CO2 levels in the brain results in abnormal or increased excitability of nervous cells.This factor also directly contributes to poor sleep in people who breathe deeply or more than the norm. (The medical norm for breathing is only about 6 L per minute).

What about the effects of radiation therapy? It mobilizes the immune system, but increases breathing rates. Patients have faster and heavier breathing for weeks after the therapy, as these Russian doctors observed. As a result, they suggest their patients to apply breathing exercises to counteract the negative effects of radiation therapy.

Those Russian medical professionals who teach breathing techniques (the Buteyko method and Frolov device therapy) discovered that slower breathing leads to increased body oxygen test results and people can have longer exhalations when practicing with the Frolov breathing device. Dr. Sergey Paschenko even organized a clinical trial on about 120 women with metastasized breast cancer. Additional breathing exercises and other lifestyle changes increased their CO2 levels and this group of about 60 women had 5 times less death rate (in 5 years) in comparison with the control group that had only standard methods.

Therefore, there are solutions to problems with cancer and medically proven complimentary methods that help to fight cancer. One option is to learn the Buteyko technique, but its exercises are not easy. They generally require a good teacher. Breathing exercises with the Frolov breathing device are much easier to learn. These 2 techniques: the Buteyko method and Frolov device therapy are combined in Oxygen Remedy Courses.


Web pages (from NormalBreathing.com and with many links) about the Buteyko Clinical Trials Review and How to Sleep (Good Sleep Hygiene Guide) that includes detailed information about major parameters for excellent sleep.

Great YouTube videos: Causes of cancer and why baking soda can help people with cancer: Baking soda, Causes of Cancer and Its Treatment and Cancer Cure Lifestyle Factors

NormalBreathing.com has many hundreds of medical quotes and references, graphs and charts, tables, investigation of numerous respiratory methods, results of numerous studies, free of charge breathing exercises, life style modules, guides, and various other resources to boost oxygenation of tissues and strengthen health and well-being.


Differences in Sleep Disturbance and Fatigue Between Patients with Breast and Prostate Cancer at the Initiation of Radiation Therapy.
Garrett K, Dhruva A, Koetters T, West C, Paul SM, Dunn LB, Aouizerat BE, Cooper BA, Dodd M, Lee K, Wara W, Swift P, Miaskowski C.
J Pain Symptom Manage. 2011 Mar 29. [Epub ahead of print]

Predictors of the trajectories of self-reported sleep disturbance in men with prostate cancer during and following radiation therapy.
Miaskowski C, Paul SM, Cooper BA, Lee K, Dodd M, West C, Aouizerat BE, Dunn L, Swift PS, Wara W.
Sleep. 2011 Feb 1;34(2):171-9.

Exercise, sleep quality, and mediators of sleep in breast and prostate cancer patients receiving radiation therapy.
Sprod LK, Palesh OG, Janelsins MC, Peppone LJ, Heckler CE, Adams MJ, Morrow GR, Mustian KM.
Community Oncol. 2010 Oct;7(10):463-471.

Sleep and daily functioning during androgen deprivation therapy for prostate cancer.
Hanisch LJ, Gooneratne NS, Soin K, Gehrman PR, Vaughn DJ, Coyne JC.
Eur J Cancer Care (Engl). 2011 Jul;20(4):549-554. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2354.2010.01226.x. Epub 2010 Sep 6.

Disrupted sleep in breast and prostate cancer patients undergoing radiation therapy: the role of coping processes.
Thomas KS, Bower J, Hoyt MA, Sepah S.
Psychooncology. 2010 Jul;19(7):767-76.

YouTube Video about Baking Soda and Causes of Cancer


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Comments 1 comment

Jaron 3 years ago

This video makes me cry..all the time one day my 7 year old nephew and 13 year old niece were very sick so there panetrs took them both to the hospital where they both were diagnosed with a brain tumor at the same time..they both fought together but both relaped at the same time and they were both givin a few months to live..they both died the same day at the same time in the same hospital bed together i miss them both sooo much i cant even explain RIP.. love u both.

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