Could More Sleep Protect You From Prostate Cancer?

Could More Sleep Protect You From Prostate Cancer?


In the seemingly never-ending war to protect our bodies from prostate cancer, we strive for all the new information available. We also keep an eye on the technological advancements that are meant to help improve our chances of not developing the cancer, or in worse case scenarios, try to fight back after being diagnosed. In recent weeks, there have been new studies that give men a chance to not even develop prostate cancer. No, you don’t have to take any magic pill or try any strange device. Instead, all you need to do is sleep more.

These studies have shown that the higher your levels of melatonin, the less likely you are to develop prostate cancer. That hormone is one that develops in your body at night when you are sleeping and when your levels are increased, your chances of getting prostate cancer is 75 percent less when you have increased levels of the hormone.

What does Melatonin Do?

As I touched on briefly, melatonin is a hormone that develops in your body over night. This hormone has an important role in the male body, as it regulates the sleep-wake cycle in the body. It also has an impact on other functions that relate to the human body’s 24 hour clock, or the more technical term of circadian rhythm. When you don’t get enough sleep and your body can’t adjust its internal clock correctly, it will wreak havoc on your body and could potentially cause issues for you including a higher risk of developing the most diagnosed cancer in American men. In the past, the fact that lower hormonal levels can be attributed to disrupted sleep was known, but this news about melatonin is something that may make men adjusts their sleeping patterns.

The Study

The actual numbers of the study went as follows. Scientists studied more than 900 Icelandic men, or 928 to be exact. They questioned the men about their sleeping habits and also took urine samples. They tested the urine to check their levels of a melatonin breakdown product. In the questionnaire, the men were asked about whether they took any sleeping pills or sleeping aids, and those that answered yes were found to have lower melatonin counts than those who fell asleep naturally.

The study ran for seven years and in that time, 111 men were diagnosed with prostate cancer. Of those 111, 24 were found to have a more advanced form of the cancer. Men that had higher levels of melatonin markers were 75 percent less likely to be diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer than their counterparts. Being diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer is an emotional and physical battle that is often too tough to fight. When the cancer becomes advanced, it is more aggressive and is more likely to lead to fatalities.

Sarah Markt, from the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, was the study leader and explained how men can ensure they are protected. “Our results require replication, but support the public health implication of the importance of maintaining a stable light-dark and sleep-wake cycle,” she said.

Her quote brings on an interesting question that affects millions of Americans. If you need a sleep cycle that involves you going to sleep when it is dark and waking up in the day time, how can men who work the overnight shift help to increase their melatonin levels to a safe marker level that will help them fight prostate cancer?

The study also said that those with raised melatonin levels had a 31 percent reduced risk of prostate cancer outright, but those in the study don’t feel that this was a significant finding.

In the United Kingdom, more than 40,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer and scientists and doctors say they would love to find a way to determine which patients are at risk more than others. While they agree to an extent with the news regarding melatonin levels, they still feel that more research needs to be done to be completely sure or even safe with saying that this study was accurate.

Artificial Melatonin?

Going back to the quote Markt gave about keeping a solid sleep routine that involved sleeping when it was dark and waking up in the light. For those that work overnight and can’t go to sleep until it’s light out and then wake up and it’s still light outside or even dark, how can they assure their body is getting its melatonin levels up. If you are one of the millions of people that work when everyone else is sleeping, there are melatonin supplements you can take to help raise your levels. In most cases, the most major side effects from taking these supplements are drowsiness and slower reaction time. This means if you work with heavy machinery or are a driver, you might want to make sure you get plenty of sleep before hitting the job site.

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