Is Melatonin an Effective Cancer Treatment?

Maylin Rodriguez-Paez, RN

Melatonin has been pigeonholed for far too long, as far as we’re concerned.

Often referred to as the “sleep hormone,” melatonin actually addresses MUCH more than just that. In fact, it could even hold potential as a viable cancer treatment.

In this post, we’re going to shed some light on melatonin’s overlooked (but amazing) role in protecting against cancer.

It’s about time it gets the recognition it deserves. Don’t you think?

Melatonin Boosts your Immune System

Melatonin is a natural hormone secreted by the pineal gland. It plays a significant role in various functions of the body, including supporting your immune system.

Melatonin stimulates natural killer cells whose job is to destroy cancer and pathogens.1 It also stimulates other members of your immune system, including T-helper cells, lymphocytes, macrophages, and monocytes.1

All of these “guys” are important in keeping you cancer-free, and your immune system simply cannot function without them.

Melatonin Stops Cancer Cells in their Tracks

The best way to defeat cancer is through a multimodal approach. Just like fighting a battle, cancer must be attacked through different angles for victory.

Conveniently enough, melatonin has been shown to stop cancer growth through several mechanisms.

It inhibits tumor angiogenesis (the growth of tumor blood vessels),2 and tumor growth,2 and it induces apoptosis,3 a process in which cancer cells commit “suicide.”

How’s that for a so-called “sleep hormone”?

Melatonin Extends the Lives of Cancer Patients by 45%

In a review of eight clinical trials, melatonin taken along with conventional treatment was shown to increase the one-year survival rate of cancer patients by 45% when compared to conventional treatment alone.

It also improved the rate of complete or partial remission by nearly 50%.4 The experts say more research is needed, but we think this is definitely worth mentioning.

Here’s a table which shows the effect of melatonin on cancer mortality. It’s based on the work of Lissoni, an Italian researcher. This is rather impressive:

Melatonin Alleviates the Side Effects of Chemo and Radiation

Chemotherapy and radiation often come with a host of side effects. Chemotherapy, especially, is one of the toughest medical therapies to endure, causing many patients to end treatment prematurely.

Studies show that melatonin may help to enhance the effectiveness of chemotherapy. Additionally, it has been shown to alleviate the following side effects associated with radiation and chemotherapy:

• Low platelet counts4,5,6

• Neurotoxicity (nerve damage)4,5

• Fatigue4

• Asthenia (weakness)5, 6

• Cardiotoxicity (heart damage)5

• Stomatitis (inflammation of the mouth mucous lining)5

• Nausea6

• Low white blood cell counts6

• Vomiting6

• Cachexia (significant weight loss and muscle wasting)7

Note: If you’re serious about taking melatonin along with your cancer therapy, please discuss it first with your health care provider. It may not be right for everybody. 

The Bottom Line

The research on melatonin is truly remarkable. And with time, we think many more studies will reveal and support the anti-cancer benefits we've outlined above.

Have you or has anyone you know used complementary therapies to help battle cancer? If so, did they help? Please let us know about it in the comments!


1. Int J Exp Pathol. 2006 April; 87(2): 81–87.
2. J Pineal Res. 2012 Jul 17 (doi: 10.1111/j.1600-079X.2012.01030.x.). [nk2]
3. J Pineal Res. 2006 Sep;41(2):130-5.
4. Cancer Chemother Pharmacol. 2012 May;69(5):1213-20.
5. Eur J Cancer. 1999 Nov;35(12):1688-92.
6. Integr Cancer Ther. 2012 Dec;11(4):293-303.
7. J Pineal Res. 1997 Aug;23(1):15-9.


Anonymous said...

Wow. Sounds too good to be true.

LifeExtension said...

Anonymous - Everything we mentioned is referenced from actual scientific studies. Nothing made up here. :)

Hip Replacement Surgery said...

Well, you have share very effective treatment for cancer.

Thanks for the great post..

LifeExtension said...

Hip Replacement Surgery - Glad you liked it! Thanks for reading

Anonymous said...

So, as a first timer here I wanted to say that your site is completely superb! We’re interested in starting a volunteer community initiative in this niche. The tips on your blog were extremely helpful to us, as it gave us something to work on. Thanks.

Cancer Diet

LifeExtension said...

Jacal - Thanks for the compliments! We're glad the info was helpful. :)

Anonymous said...

Was a specific dosage used in the studies? I am always looking for anything to improve/assist my cancer treatment.

Anonymous said...

I have been taking melatonin for 18 years, primarily because of its immune system-boosting effects. Only two minor colds during this period (knock wood).

LifeExtension said...

Anonymous - The studies mentioned in the blog used between 10-40 mg of melatonin. Also, feel free to call our advisor line. We have a team of oncology health advisors who can provide nutritional suggestions. The number is 1-800-226-2370.

LifeExtension said...

Anonymous - Impressive! Keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

when is best time to take it ?

LifeExtension said...

Anonymous - An hour before bed time.

Anonymous said...

I read somewhere it was meant to help you sleep is that correct.
This seems useful information

Life Extension said...

Anonymous - Yes! Melatonin has been shown to help sleep.

Anonymous said...

I have been taking it on and offer for years as a sleep aid and of course prefer melatonin as opposed to other types of sleeping pills because of all the positive effects, including it being a super antioxidant. I really hope it does help in the long run because there is a history of cancer in my family.

Life Extension said...

Anonymous - It makes sense to take melatonin as a sleep aid, since it is naturally produced in the body for the purpose of sleep. Levels also decline as one ages.

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