July 28, 2005-- Posted at 3:05 PM CDT
WESTON, Mass., PRNewswire-- Despite growing evidence that melatonin significantly improves risk, survival, and performance status in patients with advanced cancer, it continues to be overlooked as a therapeutic option because it lacks US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval and requires administration at times of day inconvenient to physicians.
Fade Mahmoud, MD, of the University of South Dakota at Sioux Falls, and colleagues conducted a review of the literature from 1990 to 2004 to assess the benefits of melatonin, a hormone secreted by the pineal gland, as supported by clinical research. Their findings appear in the July/August 2005 issue of American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine.
Mahmoud's team found strong evidence supporting melatonin's role as an antitumor agent. Melatonin is a chronobiotic; that is, it has the ability to set and reset the body's circadian clock. Cancer cell proliferation peaks at certain points in a 24-hour period. As a chemical regulator of the circadian clock, melatonin slows cancer growth if administered when cell proliferation is expected to be high.
Despite the evidence, few physicians incorporate chronotherapy in their clinical practice. Anticancer therapies continue to be scheduled according to physician convenience rather than for maximum efficacy. In addition, because the hormone is not yet regulated by the FDA, the debate regarding the purity, safety, and efficacy of over-the-counter melatonin continues.
The authors conclude that regulated melatonin is an effective treatment for advanced cancer and call for further research to determine optimal dose and administration time to maximize its clinical effects.
To subscribe, visit the Journal's Web site at http://www.hospicejournal.com. The article abstract can be accessed online at http://www.pnpco.com/mahmoud.html. For additional information, contact the publisher at American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine, 470 Boston Post Road, Weston, MA 02493, Tel. 781-899-2702 x142.
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