If you're a heavy snorer, you're not just sending your spouse to the sofa in search of rest -- you may be snoring your way right to the graveyard.

Snoring isn't the cartoonish habit it's been made out to be. It's often a sign of something seriously wrong, especially if your snores are punctuated by periods of absolute silence.

That's a sure sign of sleep apnea, or a condition where you literally stop breathing in the night, and a new study shows it can up your odds of cancer.

I'm not just talking about any old run-of-the-mill cancer link here, either. The new study of 1,500 people tracked for up to 22 years as part of the Wisconsin Sleep Cohort finds that the most severe forms of apnea -- or people who stop breathing 30 or more times an hour -- are 500 HUNDRED PERCENT more likely to DIE of cancer than people without apnea.

Severe apnea is a lot more common than you'd think -- but even milder cases pack a whole lot of risk: Between 15 and 29.9 episodes of low-to-no oxygen per hour will double your odds of death by cancer, and between five and 14.9 will boost it by 10 percent.

Think that's bad? That's just the beginning -- if you're sleeping with apnea, you're taking your life into your own hands every time your head hits the pillow, because people who have this condition have a higher risk of dementia, heart problems, and an early death (by cancer or any other means).

That means it's absolutely essential you get this taken care of pronto. There are gimmicks and masks and other things you can try, but most cases of apnea are caused by obesity.

Lose the weight, and the apnea will almost always disappear along with your excess pounds. And since you'll also slash your risk of diabetes, heart disease, and all the other risks that come from an oversized gut, you can really sleep easier at night.