Michigan State scientists: Hormone stops growth of breast cancer tumors

FILE - In this May 6, 2010 file photo, a radiologist uses a magnifying glass to check mammograms for breast cancer in Los Angeles. Mammograms do the most good later in life, a government task force said Monday in recommending that women get one every other year starting at age 50, and that 40-somethings make their own choice after weighing the pros and cons. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)

(WLNS) – A hormone produced by the human body appears to suppress the growth of breast cancer tumors, according to MSU scientists.

They say melatonin, which is produced in the brain and is best known for helping people sleep, also appears to help fight breast cancer.

Researchers worked off of a theory that said the lack of melatonin (which happens when people don’t get enough sleep) put women and higher risk for breast cancer. MSU’s work showed melatonin suppressed the growth of breast cancer stem cells.

Their findings were published in the current issue of “Genes and Cancer.”

Researchers caution that actual treatments based on their findings are still years away. But the university says those findings could the basis for future discoveries.

“This work establishes the principal by which cancer stem cell growth may be regulated by natural hormones, and provides an important new technique to screen chemicals for cancer-promoting effects, as well as identify potential new drugs for use in the clinic,” MSU researcher James Trosko said.

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