Monday, November 12, 2007

Allow longer for sleep and avoid cancer?

I'm fascinated by the process of cell replication gone wrong, that is cancer. And I'm convinced that the human body should be able to work better than it does in avoiding malignant growths of rogue cells. And one of my theories has to do with sleep, when I figure that much of the body's repair and reproductive work goes on.

So I was fascinated to read this article from 2003, including the following paras:

"The first involves a hormone called melatonin, which the brain churns out during sleep. Melatonin belongs to a class of compounds called anti-oxidants that mop up damaging free-radical compounds. With a disrupted circadian rhythm, the body produces less melatonin and the cell's DNA may be more prone to cancer-causing mutations.

The second link lies with a hormone called cortisol, which normally reaches peak levels at dawn then declines throughout the day. Cortisol is one of many hormones that help regulate immune system activity, including the activity of a group of immune cells called natural-killer cells that help the body battle cancer. "

So, don't short change your body by burning the candle at both ends. Allow enough time for sleep and make sure it's quality sleep. You'll do yourself a big favour!

1 comment:

Lynne Eldridge M.D. said...

Steve -

Great post and insight!

Studies do back your thoughts. Several studies in women have shown an increase in breast cancer with lesser amounts of sleep. The same association has been looked at with other forms of cancer as well.

Interestingly, women who are blind have a very low rate of breast cancer, in contrast to women who work night shifts and airline attendants, who have an elevated risk. Melatonin is manufactured by the brain in total darkness. An adequate amount of sleep probably plays an important role in cancer prevention, but sleeping in total darkness may be a good idea as well. Thanks!

Lynne Eldridge MD
Author, "Avoiding Cancer One Day At a Time"
www.avoidcancernow.com