Before we go back to linoleic acid, the last blog topic, this question has been festering in my mind and needs to be addressed.
Should be be using melatonin in dogs with lymphosarcoma?
This is an interesting question, especially because as I am about to disagree with what is all over the internet….”don’t use melatonin” with cancers of the white blood cells (like lymphoma/lymphosarcoma, myeloma, and other leukemias….all are cancers of white blood cells).
I disagree (I told you I would do that! Oh boy, here we go…sorry everyone, but I have to say what I really think…unedited, unabridged…)
The basic issue is this: melatonin has been shown to stimulate the immune response, including certain types of T cells and NK (Natural Killer) cells. These cells are involved in the normal surveillance and destruction of cancer cells, which occurs naturally in the body (melatonin also stimulates other white blood cell types). Maybe we out to say…”melatonin is good for dogs with cancer.”
Thus, it might seem logical to give melatonin with white blood cell cancers, right? Well, the sticky bit is that white blood cells are involved in the immune system, but white blood cells also include those T cells and others that have transformed (become cancerous) in lymphosarcoma and other cancers…oopsy. Are we stimulating these cancers if we give melatonin?
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For full disclosure, I need to point out that there is not a whole bunch or research on this specific question. But I dug up a paper that will interest y’all: check it out here.
This 2006 paper shows that in mice afflicted with leukemia, melatonin stimulated normal white blood cells, but not cancerous white blood cells. As a matter of fact, the survival rate of leukemic mice was 30-40% when treated with melatonin, while the survival rate of the mice without melatonin was…0%.
And to top it off, I have not been able to find an actual reference that showed that cancerous (transformed) white cells, whether they be T cells, B cells or other, were able to respond to melatonin the same way that normal (non-transformed) white cells could.
So, I feel that the blanket recommendation to avoid melatonin for lymphoproliferative or leukemic cancers, including lymphosarcoma, may be more fear based than fact based.
Best to all,
Dr. Demian Dressler is internationally recognized as “the dog cancer vet” because of his innovations in the field of dog cancer management, and the popularity of his blog here at Dog Cancer Blog. The owner of South Shore Veterinary Care, a full-service veterinary hospital in Maui, Hawaii, Dr. Dressler studied Animal Physiology and received a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of California at Davis before earning his Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from Cornell University. After practicing at Killewald Animal Hospital in Amherst, New York, he returned to his home state, Hawaii, to practice at the East Honolulu Pet Hospital before heading home to Maui to open his own hospital. Dr. Dressler consults both dog lovers and veterinary professionals, and is sought after as a speaker on topics ranging from the links between lifestyle choices and disease, nutrition and cancer, and animal ethics. His television appearances include “Ask the Vet” segments on local news programs. He is the author of The Dog Cancer Survival Guide: Full Spectrum Treatments to Optimize Your Dog’s Life Quality and Longevity. He is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association, the Hawaii Veterinary Medical Association, the American Association of Avian Veterinarians, the National Animal Supplement Council and CORE (Comparative Orthopedic Research Evaluation). He is also an advisory board member for Pacific Primate Sanctuary.
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