From Breast Cancer Options:
Our modern lifestyle poses many threats to optimal hormone function and balance. Stress, toxicity, exposure to toxins, poor quality food choices, lack of sleep, and many medications are known hormone disruptors. The most overlooked hormone disruptors are exposure to light at night and the electromagnetic energy fields generated from cell phones and many electrical devices.
They disrupt our sleep and a good night’s sleep is a potent weapon in the fight against cancer. The normal sleep-wake cycle, called circadian rhythm, is important for the production of the hormone melatonin. It is an internal biological clock regulating body temperature, endocrine functions, and many disease processes including heart attack, asthma and cancer.
Sleep is a required activity, not an option. Managing stress, adopting healthy eating and exercise habits, getting a good night’s sleep, and finding good emotional and social support, should be regarded as much a part of cancer treatment as chemotherapy or radiation.
The importance of the hormone melatonin. Changing natural body rhythms as we do in modern-day life, subjects us to deleterious health effects from too little sleep, but more importantly, chronically decreases melatonin production. Melatonin is produced by the brain in darkness, during sleep from the pineal gland. Light at night and electromagnetic radiation disrupt melatonin production making the cell’s DNA more prone to cancer-causing mutations. Melatonin increases the level of naturally occurring antioxidants in breast cancer cells; may reduce the number of estrogen receptors on breast cancer cells; modulates immune function; decreases the invasive capabilities of breast cancer cells; inhibits the growth of breast cancer cells by interacting with estrogen-responsive pathways. Sleep problems are also linked to the risk of aggressive breast cancer and recurrence.
Studies show that night shift workers have an increased risk of developing breast cancer. Researchers hypothesize that the increased risk in night shift workers is due to an increase in estrogenic stimulation when melatonin production is disrupted. Studies of blind women whose circadian rhythm are undisturbed by artificial light have a 50% reduced risk of breast cancer compared with their sighted peers. Women with breast cancer tend to have lower levels of melatonin than those without the disease.
Electromagnetic radiation (EMR) disrupts melatonin-Overnight exposure of women to elevated levels of EMR disrupts melatonin production and increases estrogen levels. At night, continual cell phone use, watching TV, sitting in front of computer screens, reading with artificial light into the wee hours, or sleeping with a light on, all contribute to melatonin deficiency. These devices emit blue light, which tricks your brain into thinking it’s still daytime. Normally your brain starts secreting melatonin between 9 and 10 pm, and light from these devices stops that process. Sleeping in a room surrounded by these devices suppresses our nightly melatonin production. Although exposure to electromagnetic fields cannot be totally eradicated we can learn to use wireless technology and use protective methods to minimize the loss of melatonin. The longer you stay in the dark the more melatonin your body produces.
Women with metastatic breast cancer who had failed to respond to Tamoxifen alone received melatonin supplements (20 mg every evening), and demonstrated an improved response to the drug. Melatonin may also enhance the effects and reduce the toxicity of some chemotherapy drugs used to treat breast cancer. Research is ongoing.
Melatonin is a potent hormone. People who are considering taking melatonin supplements should consult a knowledgeable healthcare provider who can help construct a comprehensive integrative treatment.
Some Suggestions To Preserve Your Melatonin Levels and Normal Circadian Protective Rhythms
* Make sure your room is quiet and dark.
* Sleep at least 3-5 feet away from outlets and unplug devices. EMFs can disrupt your pineal gland and its melatonin production.
* If possible, complete work during the day; sleep at night.
* Avoid watching TV or using your computer at least an hour or so before going to bed.
* Avoid light at night. If you need a night light to go to the bathroom use a red bulb which won’t suppress melatonin.
* Natural daylight is just as important as nighttime darkness in maintaining a normal circadian rhythm. Get outside for 15 minutes each morning to allow your body to get a clear signal that it’s daytime.
* Exercise regularly. Exercise done early in the day may promote better quality sleep. Vigorous exercise just before bedtime may delay sleep. * Natural daylight is just as important as nighttime darkness in maintaining a normal circadian rhythm. Get outside for 15 minutes each morning to allow your body to get a clear signal that it’s daytime.
* Exercise regularly. Exercise done early in the day may promote better quality sleep. Vigorous exercise just before bedtime may delay sleep.