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Melatonin in the treatment of cancer: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials and meta-analysis *

 Most observational studies show an association between melatonin and cancer in humans. We conducted a systematic review of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of melatonin in solid tumor cancer patients and its effect on survival at 1 yr. With the aid of an information specialist, we searched 10 electronic databases from inception to October 2004.

We included trials using melatonin as either sole treatment or as adjunct treatment. Prespecified criteria guided our assessment of trial quality. We conducted a meta-analysis using a random effects model. We included 10 RCTs published between 1992 and 2003 and included 643 patients. All trials included solid tumor cancers. All trials were conducted at the same hospital network, and were unblinded.

Melatonin reduced the risk of death at 1 yr (relative risk: 0.66, 95% confidence interval: 0.59–0.73, I2 = 0%, heterogeneity P ≤ 0.56). Effects were consistent across melatonin dose, and type of cancer. No severe adverse events were reported.

The substantial reduction in risk of death, low adverse events reported and low costs related to this intervention suggest great potential for melatonin in treating cancer. Confirming the efficacy and safety of melatonin in cancer treatment will require completion of blinded, independently conducted RCTs.

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As with any procedure, there could be pain or other substantial risks involved. These concerns should be discussed with your health care provider prior to any treatment so that you have proper informed consent and understand that there are no guarantees to healing.

THE INFORMATION IN THIS WEBSITE IS OFFERED FOR GENERAL EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY AND DOES NOT IMPLY OR GIVE MEDICAL ADVICE. No Doctor/Patient relationship shall be deemed to have arisen simply by reading the information contained on these pages, and you should consult with your personal physician/care giver regarding your medical treatment before undergoing any sort of treatment or therapy.

Published on 01-13-2008