HEALTH

Study: Higher levels of sleep aid melatonin may reduce prostate cancer risk

BY Michael Johnsen

SAN DIEGO — Higher levels of melatonin, a hormone involved in the sleep-wake cycle, may decrease the risk of developing advanced prostate cancer, according to results presented here at the AACR-Prostate Cancer Foundation Conference on Advances in Prostate Cancer Research, held Jan. 18-21.

Melatonin is a hormone that is produced exclusively at night in the dark and is an important output of the circadian rhythm, or the body’s inherent 24-hour clock. Many biological processes are regulated by the circadian rhythm, including the sleep-wake cycle. Melatonin may play a role in regulating a range of other hormones that influence certain cancers, including breast and prostate cancers.

"Sleep loss and other factors can influence the amount of melatonin secretion or block it altogether, and health problems associated with low melatonin, disrupted sleep and/or disruption of the circadian rhythm are broad, including a potential risk factor for cancer," stated Sarah Markt, doctoral candidate in the Department of Epidemiology at Harvard School of Public Health in Boston. "We found that men who had higher levels of melatonin had a 75% reduced risk for developing advanced prostate cancer compared with men who had lower levels of melatonin," she wrote. "Our results require replication, but support the public health implication of the importance of maintaining a stable light-dark and sleep-wake cycle. Because melatonin levels are potentially modifiable, further studies of melatonin and prostate cancer risk and progression are warranted."

The researchers found that 1-in-7 men reported problems falling asleep, 1-in-5 men reported problems staying asleep, and almost 1-in-3 reported taking sleeping medications.

"Further prospective studies to investigate the interplay between sleep duration, sleep disturbance and melatonin levels on risk for prostate cancer are needed," Markt said. 

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Nordic Naturals launches Omega Boost

BY Michael Johnsen

WATSONVILLE, Calif. — Nordic Naturals earlier this year launched Omega Boost, featuring 525 mg of omega-3s per serving. Sugar-free and sweetened with xylitol, Omega Boost is made from purified fish oil from anchovies and sardines, and offers fast absorption of the omega-3 fats EPA and DHA. Each 6-oz. bottle contains 35 servings, and has a convenient flip cap for easy pouring. 

Omega Boost supports heart, brain, and mood health along with healthy immune function. A vast body of research — including over 8,000 clinical studies — supports not only the important health benefits of omega-3s, but also reveals a worldwide deficiency of these essential nutrients, even among people who eat generally healthy diets, Nordic Naturals noted. 

“We are committed to correcting the global omega-3 deficiency by supplying pure, fresh, and effective omega-3 supplements in a wide variety of delivery systems, offering something for every palate and lifestyle,” Keri Marshall, Nordic Naturals chief medical officer, said. “Because of its appealing formulation and taste, Omega Boost is a product that is great for the whole family. It can be taken by the spoonful or added to a smoothie.”

Every batch of Nordic Naturals fish oils is third-party tested for environmental toxins, including heavy metals such as mercury, dioxins and PCBs, the company stated. All fish oils used in Nordic Naturals products are in the triglyceride form. 

 

 

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Google testing contact lens that works as glucose meter

BY Michael Johnsen

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. — Google is testing a smart contact lens that’s built to measure glucose levels in tears using a tiny wireless chip and miniaturized glucose sensor that are embedded between two layers of soft contact lens material, according to a blog outlining the project posted Thursday. 

"Over the years, many scientists have investigated various body fluids — such as tears — in the hopes of finding an easier way for people to track their glucose levels," wrote project co-founders Brian Otis and Babak Parviz. "But as you can imagine, tears are hard to collect and study. At Google, we wondered if miniaturized electronics — think: chips and sensors so small they look like bits of glitter, and an antenna thinner than a human hair — might be a way to crack the mystery of tear glucose and measure it with greater accuracy." 

According to the post, the prototypes being tested will generate a reading once per second and will potentially serve as an early warning for the wearer: "[W]e’re exploring integrating tiny LED lights that could light up to indicate that glucose levels have crossed above or below certain thresholds," the bloggers wrote. "It’s still early days for this technology, but we’ve completed multiple clinical research studies [that] are helping to refine our prototype. We hope this could someday lead to a new way for people with diabetes to manage their disease." 

The group currently is in discussions with the Food and Drug Administration and is in search of partners to help take the potential prototype to market. 

"We’ve always said that we’d seek out projects that seem a bit speculative or strange, and at a time when the International Diabetes Federation is declaring that the world is ‘losing the battle’ against diabetes, we thought this project was worth a shot," the authors concluded.

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