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Turn off the night light, ladies!

Posted by Richard on June 22, 2006

According to a National Cancer Institute study, women who sleep with a light on, stay up late, or work night shifts face an increased risk of breast cancer.

The researchers exposed human breast cancer tumors, grafted to mice, to blood collected from women under three different conditions: in the middle of the day, after spending the night in darkness, and after being expose to light during the night. The blood collected after darkness suppressed the tumors, while the blood collected after night-time light exposure stimulated tumor growth.

The study suggests the importance of a critical hormone:

The research by the American scientists showed that exposure at night to artificial light could stimulate the growth of human breast tumours by suppressing the levels of the key hormone melatonin.

Melatonin is secreted by the pineal gland at night and helps to regulate a person’s sleeping and waking cycles. Light, however, stops the body from producing it, making the body think that it is daytime.

I’ve been taking melatonin supplements at bedtime for years. It’s cheap, and there’s a wealth of data suggesting it has significant anti-cancer, anti-aging, and anti-oxidant properties. Not to mention that it enhances sleep and cures jet lag.

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2 Responses to “Turn off the night light, ladies!”

  1. kayanne said

    what can a woman do who has to work nights & sleep days? what supplements will help with sleep during the day & mental clarity at night?

  2. rgcombs said

    By all means, take melatonin before you go to bed (3 mg is probably enough). Your body produces melatonin only in darkness, so you’re probably not producing enough on that kind of schedule. It will probably take a few days, but melatonin at bedtime should help align your body’s clock with your sleep cycle. That should help with alertness during your wake cycle, too. You might also want to try taking ashwagandha extract when you get up. It’s cheap. Or (more expensive) Cognitex.

    The June issue of Life Extension Magazine had an interesting article about melatonin.

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