Whether it’s night shift work, or simply our fast paced 24-hour day westernized society, we have all seen the impacts of sleep deprivation on ourselves or others. Melatonin, the hormone released in response to light, dark, and within our sleep-wake cycle, has been shown to have potent anti-cancer protection.
Here’s a list of 5 ways melatonin positively reduces our risk for developing cancer:
- Proper night time Melatonin production stimulates anti-cancer immune cell function. Inversely, decreased Melatonin production suppresses anti-cancer focused immunity. (Just to make it clear, melatonin is a critical necessity for proper health and sleep hygiene…it has many health promoting effects and rises cyclically in relation to night time darkness and sleep. A hormone we all need to ensure optimal levels of sleep.)
- Western societies eat way too much Omega-6 fat (the inflammatory, “bad” fat). It is widely accepted that these fats (specifically linoleic acid), in excess, promotes cancer growth. Melatonin suppresses linoleic acid uptake, thus blocking tumor growth initiation.
- Melatonin suppresses the initiation of tumor production. It’s a potent antioxidant which helps protect against cancer generating DNA damage.
- Although sleep deprivation doesn’t necessarily directly change night time melatonin production (that sounds a little odd, I know!), ensuring complete darkness at night, does. Nocturnal (night time) light impacts Melatonin’s cancer fighting ability. So, minimize artificial light at night and ensure complete darkness, even if you’re currently not sleeping well.
- For cancer survivors or those with cancer, Melatonin supplementation on its own, or in addition to chemotherapy, radiation or supportive care (as prescribed under the care of a Naturopathic Doctor or a licensed oncology focused practitioner), has been shown to improve overall patient survival, as well as ameliorate the side effects of conventional cancer treatment. Read more here.