EAST LANSING, Mich.(WLNS) – In a breakthrough study, Michigan State University researchers discovered a hormone best known for helping people sleep at night can now be used to fight breast cancer.
The hormone is called melatonin and you can buy at your local drug store as a supplement.
The findings were published in the current issue of Genes and Cancer.
The team of scientists behind the groundbreaking research say the discover has opened a window of opportunity when it comes to tackling breast cancer.
“It’s important because it now gives us an insight to the many contributors to breast cancer.,” said MSU researcher James Trosko.
MSU professor Dr. David Arnosti says the team worked off a theory that said a lack of melatonin which happens when you don’t get enough sleep put women at higher risk for breast cancer.
“It looks like melatonin is preventing the cells more adopting more cancerous ugh characteristic,” said Arnosti.
But how did they test their theory?
The scientists had to grow tumors from stem cells, known as “mammospheres.” They discovered melatonin treatment significantly decreased the number and size of “mammospheres.”
“We now know what normal brain hormone can contribute to breast cancer,” said Trosko.
And while the researchers acknowledge treatments based on their findings are still years away they say the move is a step in the right direction and could be the basis for future research and treatment.
“We may not know today what implication this paper has on reducing breast cancer in the world. But it contributes to our knowledge and knowledge is power,” said Trosko.
While melatonin is available over the counter researchers urge against buying a bunch of pills and taking them in excess. Melatonin and a good night’s sleep is just one of many factors that could help fight breast cancer.