While Sleep Apnea is Bad for You, Is it Good for Your Bone Stem Cells?

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sleep apnea stronger bone stem cells

Sleep apnea caused by snoring is bad news. This means that you stop breathing while you sleep, dropping your oxygen levels and essentially starving your brain and body of their much needed O2. It’s been shown to be associated with everything from weight gain to diabetes to heart attacks to strokes. However, is it good for your bone stem cells and can this teach us something about these cells? A new study looked at about 800 elderly patients who had sleep studies, about half of whom had evidence of apnea on their study. Even when adjusting for sex and weight, the patients with sleep apnea had stronger bones based on density tests. Why? This can actually illustrate an important point-hypoxia (less oxygen) is actually good for stem cells. Better bone stem cells=stronger bones. I often get asked if hyperbaric oxygen would be good for stem cells and my answer is that it’s not clear. We actually have far more research showing that low oxygen conditions help stem cells. The upshot? Too little of a good thing can sometimes be helpful!

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Chris Centeno, MD is a specialist in regenerative medicine and the new field of Interventional Orthopedics. Centeno pioneered orthopedic stem cell procedures in 2005 and is responsible for a large amount of the published research on stem cell use for orthopedic applications. View Profile

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