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Sleep hormone tied to lower chance of advanced prostate cancer

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Sleep hormone melatonin is linked to lower chance a man will develop advanced prostate cancer.

Melatonin is an over-the-counter supplement that is used as a sleep aid. Now research suggests the naturally occurring hormone could help lower the chances that prostate will progress.

Melatonin may regulate other hormones to thwart prostate cancer

Sarah C. Markt, M.P.H., doctoral candidate in the Department of Epidemiology at Harvard School of Public Health in Boston said in a press release: “We found that men who had higher levels of melatonin had a 75 percent reduced risk for developing advanced prostate cancer compared with men who had lower levels of melatonin.

Lack of sleep is strongly linked to a variety of health problems including cancer risk, Markt explains. The hormone is released at night and is strongly influenced by Circadian rhythm. Melatonin might also influence other important hormones that could also lead to breast cancer, says Markt.

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The study

For their study, the researchers measured the melatonin by-product 6-sulfatoxymelatonin in the urine of 928 Icelandic men from the AGES-Reykjavik cohort between 2002 and 2009. The men also answered questions about their sleep patterns.

One out of seven men reported trouble falling asleep and one in five said they had difficulty staying asleep. One out of three men took a sleep aid.

The finding showed men with sleep problems had lower levels of 6-sulfatoxymelatonin in their urine, compared to those reporting quality sleep. Men whose melatonin levels were higher had a 75 percent lower chance of developing advanced prostate cancer. In the study, 111 men had prostate cancer; 24 of whom had aggressive disease.

Markt says more studies are needed to understand how melatonin levels, lack of sleep and other problems getting a good night's rest affects a man's chances of developing advanced prostate cancer.

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