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STANFORD, Calif., Oct 01, 2003 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- A good night's sleep may go a long way toward fighting cancer, according to researchers at Stanford University Medical Center.
"Psychosocial factors affect your behavior patterns, such as exercise, what you eat and drink, and your sleep," Dr. David Spiegel said in a statement. "Of these factors, how well you sleep can seriously alter the balance of hormones in your body."
The study, published in Brain, Behavior and Immunity, suggests two possible ways in which the circadian rhythm, or the sleep-wake cycle may influence cancer progression.
The first study involves the hormone melatonin, produced by the brain during sleep that serves as an antioxidant that mops up damaging free-radical compounds. A disrupted circadian rhythm will produce less melatonin and the cell's DNA may be more prone to cancer-causing mutations, according to Spiegel.
The second link lies with the hormone cortisol, which normally reaches peak levels at dawn then declines throughout the day. Cortisol helps regulate immune system activity that help the body battle cancer, but people whose cortisol cycle is thrown off by troubled sleep may be more cancer-prone.
Copyright 2003 by United Press International.