MSU study: Melatonin may curb breast cancer

FILE - In this Tuesday, July 31, 2012, file photo, a radiologist compares an image from earlier, 2-D technology mammogram to the new 3-D Digital Breast Tomosynthesis mammography in Wichita Falls, Texas.

EAST LANSING, Mich. (WLNS/WOOD) — A hormone that aids in sleep may also suppress the growth of breast cancer tumors, according to newly released findings by Michigan State University.

MSU scientists say melatonin, which is produced in the brain and is best known for helping people sleep, also appears to help fight breast cancer.

Researchers worked off of a theory that a lack of melatonin puts women at higher risk for breast cancer and found the inverse connection. Their findings were published in the current issue of “Genes and Cancer.”

Researchers caution that actual treatments based on their findings are still years away, but the university says the study could be the basis for future discoveries.

“This work establishes the principal by which cancer stem cell growth may be regulated by natural hormones, and provides an important new technique to screen chemicals for cancer-promoting effects, as well as identify potential new drugs for use in the clinic,” MSU researcher James Trosko said.

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