Neurobiological effects of melatonin as related to cancer.Eur J Cancer Prev. 2007 Dec; 16(6):511-6.EJ
Melatonin is a neurohormone naturally found in humans. Melatonin plays a role in maintaining sleep-wake rhythms; supplementation may help to regulate sleep disturbance that occur with jet lag, rotating shift-work and depression. Preliminary study of melatonin has shown potential for use in the treatment of epilepsy, tinnitus, migraine and neurodegenerative diseases. The latest publication in the Journal of Pineal Research by Edward Mills and colleagues has shown a compelling role of melatonin for the treatment of cancer. Melatonin's consistent relationship with cancer has been shown in many studies assessing links between shift work and cancer rates. High levels of melatonin have been linked to slower cancer progression. How melatonin affects cancer remains largely unclear. Although previous studies suggest different possible mechanisms, many of them are far distant from the primary physiological role of melatonin as a neurohormone. Conflicting studies are found on the role of melatonin in neurodegenerative diseases and cancer. In this article, we try to build and substantiate a neurobiological concept for the anticancer effects of melatonin.