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Melatonin and Breast Cancer

breast cancer chemotherapy fatigue insomnia melatonin tamoxifen Jun 10, 2022
Melatonin can help you sleep soundly and improve cancer treatment
I am always researching how natural therapies can be of benefit to women going through breast cancer treatment as well as breast cancer survivors.  Even when active treatment is over, you can still feel tired, anxious, and have trouble sleeping.  Hot flashes and night sweats can be profound, and it can be a long journey to "feel like yourself" again.  I am here to support you through that journey!  Here is some information on one of the therapies that can be quite useful for breast cancer patients and survivors.

Peaceful, sound sleep is one amazing benefit of melatonin, but did you know it is also a strong antioxidant that can help breast cancer patients and survivors stay healthier too? Studies from the past few decades show that melatonin has many layers of benefit.

What is Melatonin?

Melatonin is a hormone made in your brain by your pineal gland.  When it is dark out, your brain makes melatonin, which tells your brain and body to relax and go to sleep.  For this reason, melatonin has become an extremely popular supplement. In addition to its effect on sleep, melatonin is also an important antioxidant that helps to prevent damage to cells. It can also help your body produce healthier cells, which can help prevent cancer.

Melatonin can help you feel better during treatment!

Melatonin has been shown to have multiple potential benefits in women with breast cancer. For women in active breast cancer treatment, daily melatonin can help with fatigue and insomnia--so you can sleep better and feel more rested!  It can also be useful for mental health; studies have shown melatonin to improve symptoms of depression and increase your overall quality of life.

Melatonin is also helpful for survivors

Once treatment is over, especially if you are taking a hormone-changing drug such as tamoxifen or arimidex, symptoms such as fatigue and insomnia can be profound and so frustrating.  Melatonin can be a good choice in the long-term to help sleep more soundly.  

Melatonin's impact on cancer

In addition to being safe and effective for helping with mood, energy, and sleep, melatonin also has anti-cancer activity. As I mentioned before, it is a good antioxidant, so it helps to prevent damage to your cells. Additionally, it can decrease the ability of tumor cells to invade normal tissue and spread to other places.  For women undergoing active treatment, it can help to shrink tumors and improve the response of the tumors to chemotherapy.

For women who have certain types of risk factors for breast cancer, melatonin is also a good choice.  Anything that decreases your overall ability to sleep over the long term can be a risk factor for cancer.  This includes exposure to bright lights (such as computer and phone screens) during the night, shift work, and chronic jet lag. Melatonin can also help with cancer prevention in women with other risk factors such as environmental chemical exposure and obesity.

The Bottom Line

If you have breast cancer or are a survivor, melatonin may be a good supplement to consider.  It can help with:

  • Better sleep

  • better energy

  • improved mood

  • making chemotherapy more successful

  • preventing recurrence

Always talk with your medical provider before taking a new supplement.

Feel free to reach out if you have any questions!

Dr Kaycie


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