Men who sleep well at night may be at less risk of developing advanced prostate cancer, according to researchers from Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) and the University of Iceland in Reykjavik. In a study led by Sarah Markt, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Epidemiology at HSPH, men who slept longer and with fewer interruption had increased levels of the sleep hormone melatonin in their urine and were 75% less likely to develop advanced prostate cancer than those with less melatonin.
“Further prospective studies to investigate the interplay between sleep duration, sleep disturbance, and melatonin levels on risk for prostate cancer are needed,” said Markt, who presented the findings January 19, 2014 at the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Conference on Advances in Prostate Cancer Research in San Diego.
This is the first study to show a link between melatonin levels and prostate-cancer risk using urine samples collected before the men were diagnosed with the disease. Melatonin is produced in the brain in response to darkness and is influenced by the amount and quality of sleep. Men who wake multiple times during the night or who work nightshifts may be more at risk for disrupting production of the hormone.
The prostate cancer predicament (Harvard Public Health)
Prostate cancer: To screen or not to screen? (HSPH News)
Men with prostate cancer more likely to die from other causes (HSPH press release)