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New research shows sleep can prevent prostate cancer

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Higher melatonin levels can reduce the potential for developing prostate cancer by as much as 75 percent according to research conducted by Sarah C. Markt, doctoral candidate in the Department of Epidemiology at Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, which was presented at the Jan. 19, 2014, session of the American Association for Cancer Research Prostate Cancer Foundation Conference on Advances in Prostate Cancer Research.

Higher levels of melatonin are produced in men that get enough sleep. Melatonin is a hormone that is manufactured by the body only at night and is tied to the circadian rhythm and sleep.

The researchers selected 928 Icelandic men for the five-year study. Iceland was chosen due to the high variability of sun and dark that occurs naturally though a year.

The participant’s melatonin levels were measured by the amount of the melatonin metabolite, 6-sulfatoxymelatonin, in the participant’s urine. The participants also reported their sleep experiences and the drugs they normally took for health reasons.

Twelve percent of the participants were diagnosed with prostate cancer during the period of the study. Fourteen percent of the men reported trouble falling asleep, 20 percent of the men had problems staying asleep, and 33 percent used sleeping medications.

The researchers have found one simple way to avoid prostate cancer. Getting enough sleep without taking a sleep medication produces a 31 percent lower chance of having prostate cancer.

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