Melatonin and health - essential in cancer prevention, inflammatory diseases and anti-aging

Melatonin and health - essential in cancer prevention, inflammatory diseases and anti-aging

Melatonin has many health benefits; it is our biggest antioxidant and a strong anti-inflammatory, it regulates human oestrogen and growth hormone in your body, has a powerful detoxifying presence in the microenvironment of our cells and at least 5 actions against cancer.

Melatonin has many benefits shown in more than 3,000 published research studies, from increasing survival times with lung cancer, to anti-aging, to anti-inflammatory in Rheumatoid arthritis. Like cannabinoids, it is produced in a healthy body in order to maintain our health.

And there's far more - 

12 Benefits of Melatonin - from science

1. Melatonin influences many hormones, often in a two-way process. If your Melatonin levels are not optimal, other hormones will not be at optimal levels either. People often start by saying that melatonin is made at night-time in your pineal gland just below your brain, for better sleep. But as you will see, that's not the only source - and better sleep is not its main benefit!! Little was known about the pineal gland in Western Medicine until 1958 when Lerner reported that it secreted melatonin. However, the Ancient Greeks described it as ’The Realm of Thought’; Descartes called it ’The Seat of the Soul’. Low energy levels can be linked to low melatonin as it influences thyroid hormone production, and vice versa. The thyroid gland can also make some melatonin! (1). Melatonin can influence the stress hormone cortisol, and it can increase memory acquisition even in times of stress (2). It is a regulator of oestrogen (3)  and growth hormone. Stress hormones, thyroid hormones, growth hormone and oestrogen, if out of control, all play roles in cancer risk and progression. Not surprisingly, since it interacts with all these hormones, melatonin has been shown to reduce C-reactive Protein, triglyceride, cholesterol, blood pressure and glucose levels in the body.
2. Melatonin is a hormone involved in your natural circadian rhythms and in human seasonal, sleeping and breeding habits. Melatonin is often taken for Jet lag, or described as the 'sleeping hormone'. It is far more important than that. Melatonin levels are linked to animal breeding times; to SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder - a depression) on low sunshine winter days and in humans levels peak between 3 am and 4 am. The World Health Organisation's international research centre on cancer, IARC, has declared a lack of sleep to be a carcinogen! Melatonin levels are disrupted when the circadian clock is disrupted. In 2015 it was shown that many strains of your gut bacteria live in the dark but have circadian rhythms and they make melatonin too. Disruption of the microbiome (simply by eating late, or through ageing or more permanent damage) can deplete plasma melatonin levels (11). 
3. Melatonin has been linked to white-cell formation and a stronger immune system. Melatonin has also been shown to be involved in the production of lymphocytes and macrophages; and there are receptors for melatonin in various parts of the immune system. It is thus an important factor in the immune system and all illness prevention (6). it has been shown to stimulate the production of the immune cells, particularly T-cell, Natural Killer and cytokine production, and its use as a supplement during chemotherapy and radiotherapy reduces damage to the formation of both white and red blood cells.
4. Melatonin protects us 24/7. Melatonin is also produced during the day by the action of near Infra Red sunlight (which passes through dark clouds and your clothes) on your mitochondria. Thus melatonin can be made by day in every cell of your body. Its purpose is to help detoxify the cell and reduce the levels of free-radicals which can cause illness. It is a 'scavenger of free-radicals - the biggest antioxidant we make. It 'cleans' your cellular microenvironment. To do this, it enlists the help of your second naturally-made antioxidant, glutathione. Melatonin has been shown to reduce the age-related oxidative stress and inflammatory process in the body. Production levels of melatonin decline as we age, but can be restored by supplementation using melatonin or 5HTP.  Melatonin has also been shown to be anti-ageing - it upregulates Sirtuin 1 (SIRT1) (7).
5. Lowered melatonin production is linked to higher oestrogen-driven cancer risk in women and men: Several studies (e.g. The Boston Nurses Study and another on night shift working and breast cancer) have shown that irregular or disturbed sleeping patterns and sleeping in synthetic light, lower the production of melatonin and this is associated with higher breast cancer risk. Long haul air hostesses, night shift workers, people with disturbed sleep patterns develop more oestrogen-linked cancers such as breast, womb and prostate. Conversely, blind women develop less breast cancer. But is not just female cancer risk that is linked to low melatonin.  Night shift working in men has been shown by the University of Quebec to triple the rate of prostate cancer, double the rate of bowel cancer, increase the rate of lung cancer by 79 per cent and increase rates of bladder cancer by 70 per cent. 
6. All cancer risk increases due to lowered melatonin. As early as 2012, a meta-analysis showed that lowered melatonin levels increased all cancer risk (9). And a second meta-study showed lowered melatonin levels can lead to 35 cancers according to research (5).

7. Melatonin supplementation increases cancer survival. In a 2015 meta-analysis by the University of Copenhagen over the course of one year, the chances of cancer survival rose from 28% to 52% in patients supplementing with melatonin. Professor Mogens Claesson said that the problem was that melatonin was cheap, with little chance of a patent so Pharmaceutical companies were simply not interested in it, resulting in limited research and awareness. In another study, a 20 mg supplement was given to cancer patients at the same time as chemotherapy - survival times increased, while side-effects fell. In a second study, 1440 patients with untreatable cancers showed the same results - longer survival, less side-effects.

8. Melatonin levels increase if you go outdoors. 52% of sunlight is Infra Red, The latter can go through the darkest cloud, tree leaves, your clothes and your bones and turns on every mitochondria in your body to make melatonin. The mitochondria, by day, turn out waste and toxins from exercise, food burning etc. And the melatonin helps clean all this mess up - free radicals, toxins, reactive oxygen species. It calls up glutathione (you make that in your body from greens, garlic and onions, for example). Melatonin and glutathione keep the microenvironment of your cells healthy. This is why 'Lockdowns' were so bad for our health. You make about 60 times more melatonin by day, than in your pineal gland at night time (where in total, you opnly generate about 0.6 of a microgram).

9. Studies show that melatonin reduces cancer growth and progression. Melatonin reduces cell-proliferation, tumour growth and angiogenesis (growth of tumour blood supply). Indeed, this overview shows: melatonin has strong epigenetic (cancer-correcting) benefits in breast cancer. In animal studies by Thaiz Borin and colleagues at the Medical Facility in Sao Jose, Brazil, melatonin has been shown to inhibit the proliferation of tumour cells and reduce metastases in breast cancer and lung cancer.

10. Melatonin is also made by night, but more is made by day

You make 0.6 of a microgram in your Pineal gland at night time if sleeping in a darkened room; but you make at least 60-100 times more by day!

Serotonin is the happy hormone that increases in your body when you go in the sunlight! In fact 90% of Serotonin is made by your gut bacteria. To have good supplies of Serotonin you are dependent upon Diet - tryptophan in particular (nuts, seeds, turkey, oats and tuna) - and a healthy microbiome. A good precursor for serotonin by day is the compound 5 HTP.

At night time,  serotonin cannot cross the pineal gland wall and a good source for melatonin at night  again is 5HTP, which does cross into the pineal gland and converts to acetyl serotonin, the direct precursor of Melatonin in the pineal gland. But - YOU CANNOT TAKE 5HTP IF TAKING ANTIDEPRESSANTS.

11. Melatonin production is disrupted by energetic fields - light, especially blue light (computer screens, mobile phones), and energy systems such as EMFs, radiation, 5G, and WiFi. The pineal has also been shown to be the link between the nervous system and the "Limbic System" of the brain. In Eastern medicine the pineal gland has long been associated with the ’Third Eye’ and intuition, and it is linked to an important energy chakra. It is thus quite possibly linked to perception. Research shows its production is activated, regulated and even damaged by energetic, electrical and magnetic frequencies. Certainly external EMFs damage the pineal gland and melatonin production (4). 
12. Melatonin has significant anti-inflammatory effects. A 31 study meta-analysis (8) concluded that melatonin is safe with few side effects, which would make it an excellent agent for prevention of inflammatory disorders. It can regulate interleukin and tumor necrosis factor  (TNF).  Supplementation of melatonin reduced levels of inflammatory markers and could be useful in both the prevention and treatment of inflammatory disorders. Because chronic inflammation increases with aging, it was felt melatonin had the potential to be widely used particularly in older adults. Certainly, when I spoke with Professor Russell Reiter, he felt everybody over the age of 60 should be taking 5 mg per day.
So, how much Melatonin should I take as a supplement? 
The antiageing, anti-inflammatory recommendation is for supplementation before bed of 5 mg. Some people believe it is wiser to go for a sustained release product, as melatonin shortfall can occur during the night, if the gut microbiome is weak, as it is for many older people.
Most of the cancer studies in the USA refer to taking at least 20 mg before bed. Some studies go up to 60 mg. Occasional studies use 60 mg 3 times a day, twice during the day, and once before bed. This is called 'High Dose Melatonin'.
Please note that in a review of melatonin taken with drugs, no contraindications was found (12)
Supplements of 2-3 mg are all that is officially available in Europe and Australsia and doctors can only prescribe 3 mg max. Levels above 10 mg have been thought to cause vivid dreams and hallucination, but there is little scientific evidence.
And the growing evidence that melatonin can have an anti-cancer effect, especially when combined with chemo and radiotherapy at about 20 mg has caused people to dive straight in at that figure. If they can find the supplement. In America this is easy - melatonin is widely available. But. There are of course, vested interests that want to regulate it. I watched a YouTube video title 'The Dangers of Melatonin' but no one mentioned any single danger!

At CANCERactive we suggest all cancer patients, especially those with hormonally driven cancers, and those on chemotherapy or radiotherapy, consider at least 20 mg as a supplement. It may be wise to build up to this figure. Melatonin is self defence against cancer!
Beware, there is clear research (10) that alcohol depresses melatonin levels.
If you cannot find higher doses than 2-3 mg, 5HTP, or 5-HTP, is a sensible 'Make-it-yourself' alternative, if you are not taking antidepressants.. Take 100-200 mg with breakfast and 100-200 mg after dinner, if you cannot get melatonin. You can find out more about it HERE.

There is a plant derived version called Asphalia.
"If you are already thinking of supplementing, readers might like to see what is available in the Natural Selection shop. Click here to go to the shop

Rainbow diet          At last - the definitive, research-based book on how to build a diet to help beat cancer. Go To The Rainbow Diet Book to read more about it.
1. Melatonin in the thyroid gland: regulation by thyroid-stimulating hormone and role in thyroglobulin gene expression - J Physiol Pharmacol, 2015 Oct;66(5):643-52; J Garcoa Marin et al.
2. Melatonin improves memory acquisition under stress independent of stress hormone release - Psycopharmacology (Berl),  2009 Mar;202(4):663-72; Ulrike Rimele et al 
3. Membrane-bound melatonin receptor MT1 down-regulates estrogen responsive genes in breast cancer cells; Rainer Girgert et al, J. Pineal Res, 2009 Aug;47(1):23-31
4. Pineal melatonin level disruption in humans due to electromagnetic fields and ICNIRP limits, Malka N. Halgamuge,  Radiat Pros Dosimetry, 2013 May;154(4):405-16.
5. The genomic landscape and pharmacogenomic interactions of clock genes in cancer chronotherapy.  Y. Ye, Y. Xiang, F. M. Ozguc, et al; Cell Syst. 6, 314–328.e2 (2018). 
6. Melatonin and Regulation of Immune Function: Impact on Numerous Diseases - Curr Ageing Sci; 2020;13(2):92-101.  Stephen C Bondy,  Arezoo Campbell.
7. Mechanisms of melatonin in anti-aging and its regulation effects in radiation-induced premature senescence;  Radiation Medicine and Protection; Volume 2, Issue 1, March 2021, Pages 33-37; 
8. Anti-inflammatory effects of melatonin: A systematic review and meta-analysis of clinical trials - Joshua H Cho,  Saumya Bhutani, Carole H Kim, Michael R Irwin; Brain Behav Immun,  2021 Mar;93:245-253.  
9. The efficacy and safety of melatonin in concurrent chemotherapy or radiotherapy for solid tumors: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Wang YM, Jin BZ, Ai F, et al. Cancer Chemother Pharmacol. 2012 May;69(5):1213-20.
11. A New Paradigm in the Relationship between Melatonin and Breast Cancer: Gut Microbiota Identified as a Potential Regulatory Agent; Aurora Laborda-Illanes et al; Cancers (Basel) 2021 Jun 23;13(13):3141.
12. Adverse events associated with oral administration of melatonin: A critical systematic review of clinical evidence. Hope M. Foley, Amie E. Steel, Complement Ther Med. 2019 Feb;42:65-81.
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