A doctor is performing test on his patient to see the effects of a new sleep hormone.

Is a new sleep hormone the answer to breast cancer?

The body is a fascinating thing. It develops ways to protect us and keep us healthy. There so many diseases and disorders affecting us today. Knowing this, scientists look to improve upon the body’s natural defenses. In a recent study, it appears that researchers have found a solution to fighting off breast cancer. A sleep hormone, known as melatonin, seems to be the key.

What is Melatonin?

Melatonin is a hormone produced in the brain during sleep. It helps to regulate the sleep cycles in animals and humans. As we age, we produce less melatonin. Doctors often use melatonin supplements to treat patients with sleep disorders, headaches, cancers, and hearing conditions like tinnitus.

Sleep Hormone Fights Cancer

According to CDC, adults (18-25) need 7 to 8 hours of sleep a day. However, after interviewing 1,031 adults, analytic company Gallup discovered that at least 40% of Americans receive less than 7 hours of sleep.

A lack of sleep among U.S. citizens is not uncommon. The United States is considered a high-work, high-stress environment and leaves a lot of people sleep-deprived. This fact is important for women, as sleep deprivation can lead to breast cancer.

In a study by the Michigan State University, their research has revealed that melatonin may suppress the growth of breast cancer tumors. The discovered this by growing tumors from stem cells called “mammospheres.” The scientists applied a melatonin treatment, which decreased the number of tumors and their size.

James Trosko, one of the researcher at MSU, states “This work establishes the principal by which cancer stem cell growth may be regulated by natural hormones, and provides an important new technique to screen chemicals for cancer-promoting effects, as well as identify potential new drugs for use in the clinic.”

Hopefully their work leads to more studies involving breast cancer. The CDC states that “About 220,000 cases of breast cancer are diagnosed in women and about 2,000 in men. About 40,000 women and 400 men in the U.S. die each year from breast cancer.” If an increase in the sleep hormone melatonin helps, then doctors may be able to aid women in need.