Melatonin May Help Prevent Breast Cancer

October 22, 2012

Melatonin May Help Prevent Breast Cancer

ReferenceBreast Cancer Res Treat, Knower et al 

Melatonin is your sleep hormone.  You make it in your pineal gland when it gets dark.  As you get older, you gradually make less. (A lot less:  from some 400 down to 20) It works as a sleeping pill, although not as well as we would like because it is so short-acting.  

But it carries another rap.  That is, it is our body's strongest and most potent natural anti–cancer drug.   It penetrates all body compartments and protects us from cancer.  Part of why we get more cancer as we age is that we naturally make less melatonin as we edge past 50.   

What’s the mechanism? This study shows us.  Kevin Knower conducted the in vitro study and found melatonin treatment suppressed transcription of the gene that encodes the key enzyme aromatase.  Aromatase is the enzyme that converts testosterone into estrogen.  Estrogen is, by its nature, a proliferative hormone.  Reducing its presence reduces proliferation, the core issue with cancer.   That should slow down cancer.  

Recent research has also shown that the metabolites of melatonin are also cancer blockers. This study took breast fibroblast cells from women having breast reduction surgery as well as breast cancer-associated fibroblasts from three women with estrogen-positive receptor breast cancer.  And they found that those cells were suppressed in their production of aromatase by melatonin in doses that are easily achieved with a supplement, and in fact even naturally when you make it properly. To quote the scientific language, “Melatonin at physiological doses could significantly attenuate stimulation of Stimulation of CYP19A1 PII-mRNA and aromatase activity by prostaglandin E2 (PGE2).” 

 This isn’t the first study that links melatonin to a reduced risk of cancer or death from cancer.   A meta-analysis released in 2005 showed that melatonin supplementation in patients with solid tumors reduced death from all solid tumors by 34%.   That was all solid tumors.  Estrogen receptors aren’t in breast cancer.  Estrogen is a proliferative hormone.  All solid tumors use it to help them spread. You make melatonin when it gets dark and you are young.  As we age, we make less.  It’s our sleepy hormone.  It’s naturally there.  Getting older means less melatonin, and by this study, less protection from cancer. 

 WWW. What will work for me?  As I get older, I make less melatonin.  Hmm.  Sounds like I need to take it at bedtime, whether I’m having trouble falling asleep or not.  I would suggest a trip to your local drug store and buying 3 mg.  You may feel groggy for a day or two but stick with it.  Some folks can’t stand 3 mg but do fine with 1 mg.  The only way to know for sure is to be tested for your level, which requires a spit test in the middle of the night.   But there is no downside to taking it.  Hence, take it.

Written by John E Whitcomb, MD Brookfield Longevity and Healthy Living Clinic 17585 W North Ave, Suite 160, Brookfield, WI 53045 262-784-5300 Archives at To unsubscribe, please write us back and we’ll take you off the list