Long known for its ability to assist with a good night’s sleep, Melatonin has now been found to reduce the number and size of cancer cells.

The Experiment

A study was recently published in the journal Genes and Cancer. Melatonin is a hormone produced by the brain; it’s made at night and helps regulate sleep-and-wake cycles. The researchers wanted to expound on the theory that women who lack proper sleep are at greater risk for developing breast cancer. They decided to use melatonin to assist with maintaining regular sleep patterns.

Laboratory experiments were conducted using stem cells. Researchers at Michigan State University took the lab-made breast tumor cells and exposed them to Melatonin. The hormone actually decreased the number and size of the cancer cells.

Then, the scientists exposed the breast cells to known cancer-causing elements such as BPAs and estrogen. The already-contaminated cells grew no larger when melatonin was added. The hormone stunted the growth of tumors and reduced their numbers—even while continuing to be exposed to carcinogens.

Sleep Tight

This is surprising news for women who have been diagnosed with cancer or who are at high-risk. Deficiencies in the natural production of melatonin may be linked to increased risk of breast cancer. This is yet another reason why it’s imperative we make restful sleep a priority.

Bright light directly inhibits the release of melatonin, by the way. So if you’re looking to sleep well, make sure you’ve set yourself in a dark space. Melatonin has been used with jag lag and shift-workers to help reset their internal clocks. Some studies show the supplement lessens the time it takes to fall asleep. Others suggest that it reduces the amount of times you wake up each night.

As for this experiment, it revealed several findings that can help with cancer detection and treatment in the future. Firstly, by using stem cells, the researchers have provided a new way to screen chemicals for hazardous effects on the stem-created subject. It also depicts how a natural hormone can help regulate the growth of unnatural or diseased cells. Here’s to healthy cells!
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