Melatonin: The Next Step in Stopping Cancer?

While melatonin is mostly identified with sleep patterns and circadian rhythms, it does much more. Melatonin, described as an indolamine molecule – part of a family of neurotransmitters that affect a variety of aspects of health.

Melatonin is involved in the way the brain works, the strength of the immune system, and whether or not tumors can take hold in the body.

But melatonin can be in short supply because of the prevalence of artificial light at night, screen time with smart phones and TVs, and simply getting older. But this lack can lead to accelerated aging, weight gain, and cancer initiation.

What the researchers found was that melatonin shows, in their words, “remarkable anticancer property.” It stops the cycle of cancer cell growth, halts the spread of cancer throughout the body, and helps kill cancer cells outright.

As more work is done with melatonin, we may need to rethink the value of this commonly known, but uncommonly valuable, miracle molecule.


Samanta S. Melatonin: an endogenous miraculous indolamine, fights against cancer progression. J Cancer Res Clin Oncol. 2020;146(8):1893-1922. doi:10.1007/s00432-020-03292-w

Purpose: Melatonin is an amphipathic indolamine molecule ubiquitously present in all organisms ranging from cyanobacteria to humans. The pineal gland is the site of melatonin synthesis and secretion under the influence of the retinohypothalamic tract. Some extrapineal tissues (skin, lens, gastrointestinal tract, testis, ovary, lymphocytes, and astrocytes) also enable to produce melatonin. Physiologically, melatonin regulates various functions like circadian rhythm, sleep-wake cycle, gonadal activity, redox homeostasis, neuroprotection, immune-modulation, and anticancer effects in the body. Inappropriate melatonin secretion advances the aging process, tumorigenesis, visceral adiposity, etc. METHODS: For the preparation of this review, I had reviewed the literature on the multidimensional activities of melatonin from the NCBI website database PubMed, Springer Nature, Science Direct (Elsevier), Wiley Online ResearchGate, and Google Scholar databases to search relevant articles. Specifically, I focused on the roles and mechanisms of action of melatonin in cancer prevention.

Results: The actions of melatonin are primarily mediated by G-protein coupled MT1 and MT2 receptors; however, several intracellular protein and nuclear receptors can modulate the activity. Normal levels of the melatonin protect the cells from adverse effects including carcinogenesis. Therapeutically, melatonin has chronomedicinal value; it also shows a remarkable anticancer property. The oncostatic action of melatonin is multidimensional, associated with the advancement of apoptosis, the arrest of the cell cycle, inhibition of metastasis, and antioxidant activity.

Conclusion: The present review has emphasized the mechanism of the anti-neoplastic activity of melatonin that increases the possibilities of the new approaches in cancer therapy.

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