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The role of pineal gland in breast cancer development

The role of the modulation of the pineal gland function in development of breast cancer is discussed in this review. An inhibition of the pineal function with pinealectomy or with the exposure to the constant light regimen stimulates mammary carcinogenesis, whereas the light deprivation inhibits the carcinogenesis. Epidemiological observations on increased risk of breast cancer in night shift workers, flight attendants, radio and telegraph operators and on decreased risk in blind women are in accordance with the results of experiments in rodents. Treatment with pineal indole hormone melatonin inhibits mammary carcinogenesis in pinealectomized rats, in animals kept at the standard light/dark regimen (LD) or at the constant illumination (LL) regimen. Pineal peptide preparation Epithalamin and synthetic tetrapeptide Epitalon (Ala–Glu–Asp–Gly) are potent inhibitors of mammary carcinogenesis in rodents and might be useful in the prevention of breast cancer in women at risk.