Prostate cancer is possibly tied to low melatonin levels, according to a provocative study presented to the American Association for Cancer Research in San Diego. Melatonin is a hormone that effects sleep. It has long been speculated that their exists a link between melatonin levels and the risk for various cancer. A recent study suggest that men with higher melatonin levels have a decreased risk for prostate cancer than men with lower melatonin levels. However, the study is still to premature to deem anything conclusive.
Sarah Markt was the lead author of the study and is a doctoral candidate in the epidemiology department at the Harvard School of Public Health. Sarah and her team evaluated 928 Icelandic men. The research suggests prostate cancer is possibly tied to low melatonin levels. Other studies have suggested that melatonin levels may contribute to a variety of cancers. The reason being, melatonin is tied to the rhythms of life, like heartbeat and respiration. The hormone is secreted by the pineal gland each time people go to sleep. Low melatonin levels can lead to disrupted sleep cycles and in turn, a host of health problems. Furthermore, in animals studies, melatonin has been shown to play a role in inhibiting the growth of tumors in the prostate. Therefore, Sarah and her team set out to evaluated the participants sleep cycles as well as melatonin levels.
The researchers gathered data from men within a time frame from 2002 to 2009. Sarah and her colleagues collected urine samples from the men in order to measure the participants melatonin levels. The participants were also required to answer a questionnaire about their sleep cycles. An estimated one in seven men reported that they had difficulties falling asleep. In addition, one in five men reported that they had a difficult time persistently sleeping throughout the night. Finally, one in three men reported that they took sleeping medication.
Exactly 111 of the men in the study had been diagnosed with prostate cancer and 24 had been diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer. The researchers found that men with high melatonin levels were 75 percent less likely to developed prostate cancer in comparison to men who had low melatonin levels. The researchers report that high levels of melatonin appeared to substantially reduce the risk for more advanced stages of prostate cancer.
The results do not deem anything conclusive, however. The researchers do not advise that men start regularly ingesting melatonin supplements in order to reduce their risk for prostate cancer. There are a variety of contingencies that may have effected the results of the study. The amount of exercise and vitamin D for each man could play an important role in melatonin levels. Perhaps the most notable factor, however, is that all of the men were bound within the confines of Iceland. Iceland is known its lack of sunlight six months out of the year. Yet research suggests that sunlight can help lower the risk for prostate cancer. Although prostate cancer is possibly tied to low melatonin levels, further research that explores the relationship between the two is needed.
By Nathan Cranford