Melatonin for Prostate Cancer in a New Study
In a recent prostate cancer conference scientists presented the results of a study suggesting the beneficial effects of melatonin in reducing the risk of advanced prostate cancer in up to 75% of participants with higher melatonin levels compared to those with low melatonin.
· 928 men from Iceland were studied
· Men who had higher levels of a melatonin metabolite, 6-sulfatoxymelatonin, experienced a 75% lower risk of advanced prostate cancer
· 31% of men with higher melatonin levels had lower overall prostate cancer risk
· 65% of the men had either difficulty falling a sleep, staying asleep or taking medication for sleep.
· Men who had sleep problems experienced lower melatonin levels
· Some foods and herbs contain moderate levels of melatonin including: feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium), St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum), and huang-qin (Scutellaria baicalensis), oats, rice bran, sweet corn, wheatgrass juice, ginger, tart cherries and bananas.
What is Melatonin and how it works
Melatonin is a hormone released by an area in the middle of your brain called the pineal gland and produced only at night in darkness while you sleep. Melatonin is important for the body’s natural and inherent processes during your circadian rhythm (also known as the 24-hour sleep-wake cycle). There is virtually no melatonin produced in the day.
Circadian rhythm, also referred in lay language as the “body clock” is the bodies ability to effect the release of hormones, temperature, blood pressure and sleep-wake cycle throughout a 24-hour cycle. Circadian rhythms are influenced by environmental conditions, dark-light cycles, and time zones. Jet-lag is an example of circadian rhythm disruption.
Aside for setting your “body clock” melatonin is a powerful antioxidant –more powerful than vitamin E (Pieri et al. 1994).
The Sleep, Melatonin and Prostate Cancer Connection
In laboratories prostate cancer cells promotion and acceleration have been inhibited with melatonin exposure. The inhibitory effect of melatonin on androgen-sensitive prostate tumors was first demonstrated in male rats. (Buzzell et al. 1988)
In humans, the effect of melatonin on prostate serum antigen (PSA) levels was evaluated in prostate cancer patients by examining cancer tissue biopsy and blood serum. Two outcomes were observed in this study: 1. melatonin receptors were found in prostate tumors. 2. Based on PSA measurements, it was shown that administration of melatonin (5 mg/day at night) induced stabilization of prostate cancer disease, thus suggesting that melatonin had anti-cancer action in prostate cancer patients. (Shiu et al. 2003)
Epidemiological studies have revealed that, compared with the normal population, the incidence of prostate cancer in men with reduced sightedness (and presumably a higher melatonin secretion) is low, although the decreases in cancer incidence were not as profound as those that have been observed for women with breast cancer who also have reduced sightedness. (Pukkala el al. 2006)
Poor sleep patterns are associated with increase prostate cancer risk potentially due to lack of melatonin production. In a study of over 2400 undiagnosed who reported sleep problems, including difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep, had up to a twofold increased risk for prostate cancer. Further, there was more than a threefold increase in risk for advanced prostate cancer associated with “very severe” sleep problems. (Sigurdardottir et al. 2013)
The Doggy Bag
*Melatonin should be considered as part of a comprehensive anti-cancer lifestyle and supplementation program particularly in prostate cancer patients who also suffer from a sleep disorder like insomnia. Adequate dosing of 3mg – 30 to 60 minutes before bedtime is appropriate for men with low-grade prostate cancer. Those with advanced prostate cancer should consider 20 mg of melatonin. Both suggested dosages have proven to be safe in studies (Srinivasan et al. 2008). Clinically, however, I have noticed a few patients reporting a feeling of grogginess in the morning with even low dosages of melatonin. Of course, it is always best to take melatonin and / or any supplement regimen under the supervision of a naturophathic or integrative physician.
*Brief aside, melatonin works very well in alleviating jet-lag symptoms, particularly if taken at the bedtime of the arrival destination in healthy men and women (Claustrat et al. 1995)
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