The natural hormone melatonin, while regulating the sleep cycle, also has another recently proven health benefit. Melatonin is produced in the body when light levels are low, but also seems to have a cancer preventing effect. According to a few published studies, blind people do not get cancer as often as others, shift-workers may be more at risk for cancer, and melatonin is effective at killing a harmful molecule common in the human body. In this article we'll look at these effects on cancer and their connection with melatonin.
In a study published in Epidemiology (1998 Sep; 9 (5): 490-4), a sampling was taken of almost 14,000 blind people from Sweden and their cancer rates determined. While the cancer rates were lower in the blind sample by a significant amount, researchers caution that other factors need to be accounted for. However, the study did point to the possibility that the bodies of visually-impaired people may be producing more melatonin due to lower light levels. While there may also be dietary effects involved here, there are several other studies showing a definite link between light exposure and cancer.
Breast cancer rates are 50% higher in women working a night-shift, such as nurses, as opposed to those on a day shift. The conclusion is that women who work at night are exposed to the indoor lights at their job, as well as the daylight during the day. Twenty-four hours of light exposure. Their bodies do not produce as much melatonin as a person with a regular schedule. So what are we to draw from this?
In essence, melatonin is a cancer-fighter. In a study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology (Vol 20, Issue 10 (May), 2002: 2575-2601), melatonin is shown to be a terrifying killer of free radicals. Free radicals are rampant oxygen molecules in the body that can cause cell damage that leads to such diseases as cancer. In addition, the hormone was shown to really be effective at killing cancer cells, even in conjunction with traditional cancer treatment options. Some doctors regularly prescribe melatonin during cancer therapy.
While the best use of melatonin in the short term is to treat jet lag, as well as the occasional bout of insomnia, it's health benefits far exceeded sleep-related disorders. Since light exposure brings melatonin production to a halt, and cancer forms more readily in those who receive too much light exposure, melatonin is a proven anti-cancer supplement. We recommend caution in taking large amounts over a long period of time as the long-term side effects are still unknown, although as a secondary backup to a traditional ongoing cancer therapy, it may be of use to cancer patients.
Source by Alan Glender