Does melatonin suppress breast cancer tumor growth?

Does melatonin suppress breast cancer tumor growth?

A lack of sleep has many significant effects on our daily life and health. A recent study also suggests that there is a link between lack of sleep, which allows the production of melatonin, and breast cancer. In fact, researchers believe that melatonin may be key in suppressing breast cancer tumors.

The study was conducted by creating tumors from stem cells and utilizing melatonin treatments to examine the effects on the tumor. The researchers found that melatonin significantly decreased the number and size of created tumors when compared to a controlled group. Researchers also found that when cells were stimulated with estrogen or estrogen chemicals and treated with melatonin, there was also a reduction in the size of the tumors.

Although this discovery could be ground-breaking, researchers agree that any potential treatments are years away. “Discoveries like this are always fascinating, but it is absolutely too soon to tell what it means for treatment options,” says Wendy Bingham, a nurse practitioner in the breast health department at Advocate Dreyer in Aurora, Ill. “It might be interesting to see a study on sleep or taking melatonin pills and the results it has on breast cancer, if any.  There is a lot of research suggesting that people who do shift work have an increase in breast cancer due to the lack of sleep, so perhaps these are correlated.”

While an application of the research may be far off, Bingham says the best thing to do in terms of prevention is to simply live healthy.

“There are many factors that can cause breast cancer, and we continue to discover more and more,” says Bingham. “The best thing you can do for yourself is lead a healthy life. Continue to eat healthy, exercise often and get regular sleep. I wouldn’t rush out and take melatonin pills every day just yet, though.”

Even though the application of this research may still be determined, many may rest a bit easier knowing that progress continues to be made against breast cancer.

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health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Aurora Health sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.