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March 19, 2013


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The research I have looked into reports that melatonin helps control weight by stimulating a type of fat cell called "beige fat" to burn calories instead of storing them, and has been used to treat obesity. If this is true then treatment with melatonin in a cancer patient would be very inappropriate. I wonder what the the authors proposed the mechanism of melatonin to reduce weight loss was.

I have never heard of melatonin reducing weight loss or even more specifically in cancer patients. I only knew that melatonin was helpful with jetlag. It’s interesting that researchers did not find any link between melatonin and different cancers. Yet they wanted to still look at possible effects on weight loss in cancer patients. I am curious to know what melatonin does to reduce weight loss.

This is a little off-topic, and I see that the jury is still conflicted about melatonin causing weight loss or gain; but if it does possibly help you gain weight by increasing appetite, I wonder what kind of ramifications this poses for night-shift workers? Maybe that means that now that my husband and I are on day shift schedule we'll slim down...one can only hope!

I agree with the other posters in that melatonin does not seem to be a strong enough sleep treatment to overpower the effects of strong chemotherapy and advanced cancer. These patients have so much going on in their body at once that it seems nearly impossible to adjust their weight with one natural treatment, especially while they are taking incredibly nauseating chemotherapy agents.

I would imagine that Melatonin can help people slow down digestion and utility of food to a moderate degree, but definitely cannot overcome the effect of weight loss due to advanced cancer, especially when people have GI cancer and melatonin does not directly work on the GI to reduce motility.

I was unaware of a direct (theorized or known) link between melatonin and weight loss in cancer patients, and, consequently, did a little research. I ended up finding a great review of the theorized mechanisms behind cachexia and believe a more effective therapy may be aimed at the underlying mechanisms mentioned in this article(i.e. neuropeptide dysregulation, lipolysis, etc). Cachexia (or weight loss) is such a complex process, that until we understand the process better, there probably won't be a "magic bullet." I'm so glad research is looking at other possible causes though. Mortality and poor quality of life certainly increase with higher amounts of weight loss, in cancer and other disease states alike.


Even the results of this study were not positive it was still interesting to read. I didn't even know that melatonin had been studied for weight loss and appetite much less that some previous studies had seen positive results. I agree with Zach that the duration isn't question long enough but I would be interesting to see more trials on this topic.

I wonder what was the reason they linked melatonin to weight gain in the first place?

Interesting . . . I had to look it up to see that melatonin has actually been looked at for quite a few conditions besides sleep, but so far the only good evidence is for sleep, specifically jet lag. I guess I don't understand why it would increase appetite when usually it's supposed to stimulate sleep (when you wouldn't want to eat!).

I didn't realize melatonin is synthesized from tryptophan. It makes so much more sense that eating things like Thanksgiving turkey makes you tired! I agree with the previous poster in that this is clearly too short and small of a study to accurately assess the effectiveness of melatonin on increasing sleep and appetite. Further research in this field would be beneficial, especially to this patient population.

I feel the same about this study as I do about the lack of sleep/ weight gain study that is also posted recently in this blog. One month just isn't long enough to look at weight loss or weight gain; the amounts measured in these studies could simply be due to hydration, bowel, and recently fed statuses.
It is interesting however, that they were looking to melatonin as a weight gain agent, and that melatonin levels are highest right before you go to bed (or should be going to bed)....hmmmm.

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