NOT only are they keeping their partners awake at night, heavy snorers could be five times more likely to develop cancer.

New research shows that low blood oxygen levels – often caused by snoring and other types of irregular breathing during sleep – can trigger the development of cancerous tumours.

Researchers in the US looked at cancer rates in more than 1,500 people, in a study of sleep problems that began 22 years ago.

They found those with severe sleep disordered breathing (SDB) were 4.8 times more likely to develop cancer than those who had no such problems.

“Ours is the first study to show an association between SDB and an elevated risk of cancer mortality in a population-based sample,” said Dr Javier Nieto, who led the study.

Moreover scientists now believe doctors could actually help people fight the disease by stopping them snoring.

It comes as researchers in Spain found the continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) mask used to treat sleep apnea could reduce the risk of developing high blood pressure.