Melatonin, a hormone of the pineal gland, is best known for its sleep-inducing effects. But did you know that it also has potential anticancer effects? Researchers from Iran reviewed the anticancer properties of melatonin and concluded that melatonin has potent anti-cancer properties.
The study, published in the journal Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology, looked at the molecular antiangiogenesis pathways that are caused by melatonin and the processes responsible for various cancers in both animal and laboratory tests.
It has been reported that melatonin has multiple biological activities including antitumor activity. In addition, melatonin exerts its anticancer effect by inhibiting angiogenesis. Angiogenesis is a process whereby new blood vessels are formed from old ones; It is of course linked to the development of the organism and life. This process plays a major role in the progression of tumors. Regulation of angiogenesis is considered a potential cure for growth and deformation of cells, as increased angiogenesis is a major feature of tumor progression.The researchers found that melatonin inhibits angiogenesis by targeting the nutrients and oxygenation of cancer cells. It targets mainly hypoxia-induced factor-1alpha (HIF-1alpha) and the genes under its control, such as the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). Melatonin inhibits the translocation of HIF-1alpha and the migration, invasion and tube formation of endothelial cells.From these results, the researchers conclude that melatonin inhibits angiogenesis in the fight against cancer.
Other ways of Melatonin fighting cancer
Melatonin is often referred to as the “pacemaker” of the body and is a hormone that works with the pineal gland to regulate the body’s internal clock and tell the body what time of day and what time of year it is. Melatonin and the pineal gland help to regulate circadian rhythms and the sleep cycle. Melatonin also affects almost every cell in the body. It has also been reported that melatonin is a tumor suppressor for various cancers, including breast cancer. Several researchers have investigated how melatonin protects against breast cancer, and here are some of their findings:
• Melatonin production influences the development of breast cancer: In a study published in the journal Endocrine Related Cancer Cancer, the researchers looked at how nocturnal exposure to artificial light affected melatonin production and breast cancer. Based on the data collected, the number of breast cancers in people who worked at night and were exposed to artificial light was high. The researchers believe that this is partly due to the role of melatonin in the regulation of estrogen-metabolizing enzymes and “watch genes”.
• Melatonin makes cancer cells go to sleep: cancer researcher dr. David E. Blask also noted that melatonin can help prevent breast cancer by putting cancer cells to sleep. He found that nocturnal melatonin levels in the blood can inhibit breast cancer growth by 70 percent.
• Melatonin helps regulate estrogen levels: An Australian study from 2012 has shown that melatonin helps regulate estrogen by reducing estrogen-dependent genes. It fights off harmful xenoestrogens and inhibits estrogen production in breast fat fibroblasts (BAFs) to prevent overdose of estrogen. BAFs form the dense mass that exists around malignant mammary epithelial cells and are the primary source of estrogen in brain tumors in postmenopausal women.
• Melatonin causes cancer cell death: Chinese researchers have shown that melatonin induces cell death by inhibiting specific proteins and signaling pathways.
• Melatonin strengthens the immune system: melatonin also strengthens the immune system, which is important for the prevention and treatment of breast cancer and other diseases. Researchers found that melatonin acts as an antioxidant and promotes the production of T helper cells in the body. Researchers from India found in 2011 that melatonin benefits people with breast cancer, hepatocellular carcinoma or melanoma.