New research shows getting enough sleep and producing melatonin might be a key factor in suppressing breast cancer tumors.
Melatonin, a hormone produced by the brain at night to regulate sleep cycles, seems to stop the growth of breast cancer tumors, according to a news release from Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan.
To test the hypothesis that lack of sleep puts women at higher risk for breast cancer, researchers at the university grew tumors from stem cells, known as mammospheres, the release notes.
Researchers added chemicals known to fuel tumor growth, such as natural estrogen and estrogenlike chemicals. This includes Bisphenol A, also called BPA, which can be found in plastic packaging. With a melatonin treatment, the number and size of the mammospheres decreased—even while the tumors were stimulated with chemicals and treated with melatonin at the same time.
“This work establishes the principle 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,” says James Trosko, professor of pediatrics and human development and co-author of the study.