Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Stanford research builds link between sleep, cancer progression

01.10.2003


A good night’s sleep may be one weapon in the fight against cancer, according to researchers at Stanford University Medical Center. Their work is among the first to piece together the link between mental well-being and cancer recovery.



Previous studies have found people with cancer who go through group therapy or have a strong social network fare better than those with weaker social support. The question has been how psychosocial factors exert their influence on cancer cells. David Spiegel, MD, the Jack, Lulu and Sam Willson Professor in the School of Medicine, and Sandra Sephton, PhD, Spiegel’s former postdoctoral fellow now at the University of Louisville School of Medicine, suggest that a person’s sleep/wake cycle might be the connection. Their work will be published in the October issue of Brain, Behavior, and Immunity.

"Psychosocial factors affect your behavior patterns, such as exercise, what you eat and drink, and your sleep," Spiegel said. Of these factors, how well you sleep can seriously alter the balance of hormones in your body. This makes the sleep/wake cycle, also called the circadian rhythm, a good candidate for linking a person’s social network to their cancer prognosis.


Spiegel suggested two possible ways in which the circadian rhythm may influence cancer progression. The first involves a hormone called melatonin, which the brain churns out during sleep. Melatonin belongs to a class of compounds called anti-oxidants that mop up damaging free-radical compounds. With a disrupted circadian rhythm, the body produces less melatonin and the cell’s DNA may be more prone to cancer-causing mutations.

Melatonin also slows the ovaries’ production of estrogen. For many ovarian and breast tumors, estrogen spurs the cancerous cells to continue dividing. Shift workers who work through the night and produce less melatonin may therefore produce more cancer-activating estrogen, the researchers said.

The second link lies with a hormone called cortisol, which normally reaches peak levels at dawn then declines throughout the day. Cortisol is one of many hormones that help regulate immune system activity, including the activity of a group of immune cells called natural-killer cells that help the body battle cancer.

One study found that people who are at high risk of breast cancer have a shifted cortisol rhythm, suggesting that people whose cortisol cycle is thrown off by troubled sleep may also be more cancer-prone. In past work, Spiegel and his coworkers have found that women with breast cancer whose normal cortisol cycle is disrupted - with peak levels in the afternoon rather than at dawn - die earlier from the disease. Those women whose cortisol cycle was shifted also tended to sleep poorly, have lost a spouse or partner and have cancer-fighting branches of the immune system suppressed.

Other studies back up this theorized connection. Spiegel cited the recent finding that night-shift workers have a higher rate of breast cancer than women who sleep normal hours. What’s more, mice whose circadian rhythm has been interrupted show much more rapid tumor growth than normal mice. Together, these studies led Spiegel to suspect that a poor night’s sleep may be one link between a weak social network and a poorer cancer prognosis.

Spiegel said that although much remains to be learned about how the stress response system affects tumor growth, the current research draws a connection that doctors should heed. "I’d like people to reconceptualize cancer as a biological event that triggers stress responses affecting how the disease progresses," he said. Managing those stress responses by adopting healthy eating and exercise habits, getting a good night’s sleep, and finding good emotional and social support, should be regarded as much a part of cancer treatment as chemotherapy or radiation, he said.

"Doctors should not just be fighting the tumor but helping the people with the disease to live with it," he said.

Stanford has a Cancer Supportive Care Program, directed by Spiegel, UC-San Francisco oncologist Ernest Rosenbaum, MD, and nurse Holly Gautier, that offers yoga, counseling, energy healing and other stress reduction classes for people with cancer. Spiegel said these types of services can help people with cancer maintain their emotional well- being, which could in turn help them sleep well and perhaps help their bodies better resist cancer growth.

"Although having cancer might be something to lose sleep over," Spiegel noted, "we’d rather help people regain the sleep and lose the cancer."


Stanford University Medical Center integrates research, medical education and patient care at its three institutions - Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford Hospital & Clinics and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford. For more information, please visit the Web site of the medical center’s Office of Communication & Public Affairs at http://mednews.stanford.edu.

PRINT MEDIA CONTACT: Amy Adams at 650-723-3900, (amyadams@stanford.edu).

Amy Adams | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://mednews.stanford.edu
http://med-www.stanford.edu/MedCenter/MedSchool/

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Novel study underscores microbial individuality
13.12.2019 | Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences

nachricht TU Dresden biologists examine sperm quality on the basis of their metabolism
29.11.2019 | Technische Universität Dresden

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Virus multiplication in 3D

Vaccinia viruses serve as a vaccine against human smallpox and as the basis of new cancer therapies. Two studies now provide fascinating insights into their unusual propagation strategy at the atomic level.

For viruses to multiply, they usually need the support of the cells they infect. In many cases, only in their host’s nucleus can they find the machines,...

Im Focus: Cheers! Maxwell's electromagnetism extended to smaller scales

More than one hundred and fifty years have passed since the publication of James Clerk Maxwell's "A Dynamical Theory of the Electromagnetic Field" (1865). What would our lives be without this publication?

It is difficult to imagine, as this treatise revolutionized our fundamental understanding of electric fields, magnetic fields, and light. The twenty original...

Im Focus: Highly charged ion paves the way towards new physics

In a joint experimental and theoretical work performed at the Heidelberg Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics, an international team of physicists detected for the first time an orbital crossing in the highly charged ion Pr⁹⁺. Optical spectra were recorded employing an electron beam ion trap and analysed with the aid of atomic structure calculations. A proposed nHz-wide transition has been identified and its energy was determined with high precision. Theory predicts a very high sensitivity to new physics and extremely low susceptibility to external perturbations for this “clock line” making it a unique candidate for proposed precision studies.

Laser spectroscopy of neutral atoms and singly charged ions has reached astonishing precision by merit of a chain of technological advances during the past...

Im Focus: Ultrafast stimulated emission microscopy of single nanocrystals in Science

The ability to investigate the dynamics of single particle at the nano-scale and femtosecond level remained an unfathomed dream for years. It was not until the dawn of the 21st century that nanotechnology and femtoscience gradually merged together and the first ultrafast microscopy of individual quantum dots (QDs) and molecules was accomplished.

Ultrafast microscopy studies entirely rely on detecting nanoparticles or single molecules with luminescence techniques, which require efficient emitters to...

Im Focus: How to induce magnetism in graphene

Graphene, a two-dimensional structure made of carbon, is a material with excellent mechanical, electronic and optical properties. However, it did not seem suitable for magnetic applications. Together with international partners, Empa researchers have now succeeded in synthesizing a unique nanographene predicted in the 1970s, which conclusively demonstrates that carbon in very specific forms has magnetic properties that could permit future spintronic applications. The results have just been published in the renowned journal Nature Nanotechnology.

Depending on the shape and orientation of their edges, graphene nanostructures (also known as nanographenes) can have very different properties – for example,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

The Future of Work

03.12.2019 | Event News

First International Conference on Agrophotovoltaics in August 2020

15.11.2019 | Event News

Laser Symposium on Electromobility in Aachen: trends for the mobility revolution

15.11.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

Supporting structures of wind turbines contribute to wind farm blockage effect

13.12.2019 | Physics and Astronomy

Chinese team makes nanoscopy breakthrough

13.12.2019 | Physics and Astronomy

Tiny quantum sensors watch materials transform under pressure

13.12.2019 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>