Melatonin is the hormone produced by the pineal gland in the body. It is responsible for regulating the sleep cycle. The amount of this hormone reduces in the body when the body is exposed to light and the reverse happens when the body is exposed to darkness. However, of late melatonin has been in the news for its anti-aging potential. So does melatonin have the potential to slow or stop aging?
Melatonin Decrease with Age
The very fact that the amount of melatonin in the blood decreases with age as well as when the body is exposed to artificial night at night, this makes the people more prone to rapid aging and increased chances of diseases. Some of the health problems associated with low levels of melatonin include degenerative diseases of the brain, depression, increased risk of certain types of cancers, increased chances of getting strokes and heart disease, and insomnia besides of course accelerated aging.
Melatonin as an Antioxidant
Furthermore, researchers have also found that melatonin can work on the fat as well aqueous sections of the cell, thereby making is a very powerful antioxidant. Hence, its effects as an antioxidant to destroy free radicals is enhanced. Thus due to melatonin presence in the body, the damage to the DNA, proteins and lipids caused by free radicals is averted. When free radicals are destroyed, it can stop certain aspects of aging and also reduce the risk of getting diseases.
Melatonin and Alzhemier’s Disease
However, as a person ages, the levels of melatonin in the body begin decreasing. This means that an elderly person has extremely low levels of this hormone. According to researchers, it is these low levels that result in aging and many diseases related to the brain, such as Alzheimer’s and dementia. Researchers are of the opinion the build up of amyloid plaque and oxidative stress in the cells of the brain are the leading causes for Alzheimer’s and dementia. And, this could have been averted if the melatonin levels were normal or high in the blood.
Melatonin and Cancer
Furthermore, melatonin is also known to reduce the chances of getting certain types of cancer, namely breast cancer and colorectal cancer. Typically, malignant tissue in the breast tends to contain high amounts of aromatase compared to normal tissue. Aromatase is a enzyme that converts testosterone into a female hormone known as estradiol. This female hormone tends to stimulate breast cancer. There is scientific evidence to show that melatonin inhibits the activity of aromatase and hence, prevents breast cancer in women. Based on several scientific studies, researchers have found that women who work continuously in night shift get diagnosed with colorectal cancer and breast cancer more often than women who do not.
Therefore, if you are still wondering about the anti aging potential of melatonin and how it can slow down your body’s aging process, contact your doctor to check melatonin levels in your body. This can be done through a saliva or blood test. If your melatonin levels are low, find out from your doctor how the levels can be brought back to normal.
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