The growth of cancer cells can be restricted by melatonin, a hormone secreted by the brain at night, shows a recent study conducted by the Michigan State University. The hormone works to control the body clock, and regulates the sleep and wake cycles of the body.
The researchers found that when melatonin was brought in contact with breast tumour cells, which were lab-grown with the help of stem cells called mammospheres, the growth of the tumour cells got restricted. The same happened even when these cancerous cells were exposed to cancer-triggering chemicals at the same time. The researchers aim to use this technique to effect in the future research and come up with an advanced way to battle breast cancer.
"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," Dr. James Trosko, one of the researchers, said.
It has been shown by various studies that women who get improper sleep are more susceptible to breast cancer. More than 2.8 million women in the United States have a history of breast cancer, including those who have been diagnosed and those who have been treated. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 40,860 women and 464 men died of breast cancer in 2013. The chances of men getting diagnosed by breast cancer are one out of 1,000.
Sleep deprivation is often linked to urbanisation, which has been found to be a major cause of breast cancer, along with food habits and genetic pre-disposition. Women belonging to developed nations have been found to be more prone to breast cancer than those from developing nations, largely due to the transformed lifestyle involving excessive smoking and alcohol abuse, consumption of oral contraceptive pills, delayed child birth, lesser breast feeding, odd working hours, lack of work-out, and obesity.
It has also been found that long-term intake of post-menopausal hormones can cause breast cancer, besides increasing the risk of having heart diseases and osteoporosis.