Your doctor may soon prescribe sleep to cut prostate cancer risk


Ah, summer. A great time to rest, relax, and catch up on your favourite activities, which for many people includes napping in the hammock. Yet, not everyone is on good terms with the Sandman. A study released by StatsCan in 2002 showed one in seven Canadians regularly had difficulty falling or staying asleep. With bedside smartphones, TV shows on iPads, and other distractions, it’s unlikely those statistics have gotten any better.
Now, researchers in Iceland have uncovered an interesting link between poor sleep and the risk of getting prostate cancer. A study of 2,425 men aged 67 to 96 in Reykjavik revealed that those who had difficulty falling asleep had a 1.6 times increased risk of developing prostate cancer in the next five years. The effect was even more pronounced, over two times the risk, for those with more severe sleep problems.
The researchers, led by Lara G. Sigurdardottir, accounted for factors like age and smoking, and also took into account the sleep disruption resulting from nocturia, having to get up at night to go the bathroom. They stand by their observation and suggest a plausible mechanism by which sleep problems can possibly lead to cancer, so they’re thinking causation, not just correlation. She even suggested in an interview that improving sleep might be considered as a potential intervention to prevent prostate cancer.
The researchers suspect that melatonin, a naturally occurring hormone that regulates our daily rhythm, is the key factor here. Melatonin appears to have tumour-suppressing activity, while its absence promotes tumour growth.
“Shorter sleep duration and greater sleep disruption may be viewed as a proxy for increased melatonin suppression,” they write, “given that individuals are likely to be exposed to light when not asleep at night.” In fact, they make the intriguing observation that “blind men, who may also have reduced exposure to light, have lower prostate cancer incidence when compared with the general population.”

Source: The Vancouver Sun

International Web Site of Melatonine are: Key Melatonin