Being reported in LiveScience is that “Men with higher levels of the sleep hormone melatonin may be less likely to develop prostate cancer.” This new study also indicates that men with higher levels of melatonin in their urine have a 75% decreased risk of developing advanced prostate cancer.
The researchers do not know if the higher levels of melatonin are naturally occurring or from supplements.
Men who had the lower levels of melatonin were those who took medication for sleep problems, and difficulty in falling and staying asleep. The Independent reports that “Sleep loss and other factors can influence the amount of melatonin secretion or block it altogether, and health problems associated with low melatonin, disrupted sleep, and/or disruption of the circadian rhythm are broad, including a potential risk factor for cancer.”
The researchers stress that this is a small study, and needs verification through replication.
Past studies have also hinted at an increased risk of breast cancer associated with night shift work. As reported by the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, “An increased risk of breast cancer was found among subjects who reported not sleeping during the period of the night when nocturnal melatonin levels are typically at their highest.”
Our body produces melatonin in the dark at night. This hormone regulates our sleep-wake cycle, and influences our circadian rhythm. People with low levels of melatonin typically experience disrupted sleep.
Our bodies typically produce melatonin at levels near 0.3 mg per day. So, you don’t need mega doses of this hormone as a supplement to maintain normal body levels. And according to the University of Maryland, “1 to 3 mg 1 hour before bedtime is usually effective (for insomnia), although doses as low as 0.1 -0.3 mg may improve sleep for some people.” As with all supplements, discuss it with your doctor before taking it.
The medical community is becoming increasingly aware of the role melatonin may play in preventing some cancers like breast and prostate cancers. Poor night sleep and low melatonin levels are associated with increased risk of both cancers. If you decide to take melatonin as a supplement, remember that only small doses are needed. Of course, always talk to your doctor first before taking any supplement.
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