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Featuring Demian Dressler, DVM and Susan Ettinger, DVM, Dip. ACVIM (Oncology), authors of The Dog Cancer Survival Guide

Sleep, Melatonin, and Cancer

Updated: June 28th, 2018

As humans, we recognize sleep as an important factor in our overall health. As guardians of our dog’s health, we may not recognize that quality sleep is also important to the health and well-being of our companions. We know that our dogs sleep a lot more hours every day than we do. This isn’t because they’re lazy or don’t have a job; their metabolisms are designed to require more rest. So just imagine if that sleep time were the best quality to help them heal? During the sleep cycle the body regenerates and carries out functions of which we are not aware, such as hormone production. As we sleep, melatonin is produced by the pineal gland. Melatonin helps to regulate the sleep cycle, but melatonin also has anticancer effects in the body. Melatonin production is maximized by getting a solid night’s sleep in a completely dark room. For further information on how melatonin impacts cancer in the body, please consult chapters 8 and 13 in The Dog Cancer Survival Guide.

There were many studies, articles and books Dr. Dressler and Dr. Ettinger used when writing The Dog Cancer Survival Guide. Here is a list of the most important references about the anticancer effects of melatonin.

Please note that in vivo and clinical use citations were included whenever possible. We have also include links to the papers, where available. Most of the papers are found on the National Institute of Health’s online library, PubMed.

Melatonin as a chronobiotic/anticancer agent: cellular, biochemical, and molecular mechanisms of action and their implications for circadian-based cancer therapy. Blask DE, Sauer LA, Dauchy RT. Curr Top Med Chem. 2002 Feb;2(2):113-32. Review.

Melatonin inhibition of cancer growth in vivo involves suppression of tumor fatty acid metabolism via melatonin receptor-mediated signal transduction events. Blask DE, et al. Cancer Res. 1999 Sep 15;59(18):4693-701.

New actions of melatonin on tumor metabolism and growth. Blask DE, et al. Biol Signals Recept. 1999 Jan-Apr;8(1-2):49-55. Review.

Putting cancer to sleep at night: the neuroendocrine/circadian melatonin signal. Blask DE, Dauchy RT, Sauer LA. Endocrine. 2005 Jul;27(2):179-88. Review.

Melatonin as a chronobiotic/anticancer agent: cellular, biochemical, and molecular mechanisms of action and their implications for circadian-based cancer therapy. Blask DE, Sauer LA, Dauchy RT. Curr Top Med Chem. 2002 Feb;2(2):113-32. Review.

Therapeutic actions of melatonin in cancer: possible mechanisms. Srinivasan V, et al. Integr Cancer Ther. 2008 Sep;7(3):189-203. Review.

Circadian stage-dependent inhibition of human breast cancer metabolism and growth by the nocturnal melatonin signal: consequences of its disruption by light at night in rats and women. Blask DE et al. Integr Cancer Ther. 2009 Dec;8(4):347-53.

A randomized study of chemotherapy with cisplatin plus etoposide versus chemoendocrine therapy with cisplatin, etoposide and the pineal hormone melatonin as a first-line treatment of advanced non-small cell lung cancer patients in a poor clinical state. Lissoni P, et al. J Pineal Res. 1997 Aug;23(1):15-9.

Melatonin in cancer management: progress and promise. Jung B and Ahmad N. Cancer Res. 2006 Oct 15;66(20):9789-93.

Melatonin in the treatment of cancer: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials and meta-analysis. Mills E, Wu P, Seely D, Guyatt G. J Pineal Res. 2005 Nov;39(4):360-6.

Light at night, chronodisruption, melatonin suppression, and cancer risk: a review. Reiter RJ, et al. Crit Rev Oncog. 2007 Dec;13(4):303-28.

Lighting for the human circadian clock: recent research indicates that lighting has become a public health issue. Pauley SM. Med Hypotheses. 2004;63(4):588-96.

The modulatory role of melatonin on immune responsiveness. Carrillo-Vico A, et al. Curr Opin Investig Drugs. 2006 May;7(5):423-31.

Melatonin, immune function and aging. V Srinivasan, et al. Immun Ageing. 2005; 2: 17.

Melatonin for refractory idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura: a report of 3 cases. Todisco M, Rossi N. Am J Ther. 2002 Nov-Dec;9(6):524-6.

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