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Natural Awakenings Fairfield Cty/Housatonic Valley, CT

Sleeping in the Dark is Best for Breast Cancer

Dec 31, 2014 03:17AM

Melatonin is a hormone that the body creates at night, when it is dark. Among its many properties, it appears to play a role in cancer prevention by helping to combat inflammation, trigger apoptosis (programmed cell death) and interfere with angiogenesis (the growth of blood vessels to feed tumors). Of importance to the majority of breast cancer patients, it also tends to reduce estrogen production.

A recent study on mice, conducted by Tulane University School of Medicine in conjunction with the Tulane Center for Circadian Biology, showed that even a dim light (such as a faint light from under a bedroom door) can lower melatonin levels and interfere with cancer therapy.

All the mice were implanted with human breast cancer cells and treated with Tamoxifen. Those who slept with dim light had a tumor growth 2.6 times faster than those who slept in pitch black darkness. Those who had low levels of melatonin were completely resistant to the Tamoxifen. One conclusion of the study was that Tamoxifen requires melatonin to be effective.

Although it’s unknown yet how the results of this study may translate to humans, more studies are being conducted to find out. In the meantime, it is wise to keep bedrooms as dark as possible when you sleep. Remove all cell phones, mobile phones and wireless computers. Use alarm clocks without LED displays and cover the LED readouts of television cable boxes and DVRs. Don’t watch television or sit at the computer after 9pm, when the brain normally begins to secrete melatonin. Try to get at least seven hours of sleep.

For more information on this or other health and nutrition topics, visit Submitted by India Penney of Inside Out Health & Nutrition, Westport.