University of Massachusetts Medical Center,
Department of Psychiatry, Worcester, USA.
Meditation, melatonin and breast/prostate cancer:
hypothesis and preliminary data.
Med Hypotheses 1995 Jan
The objective of this study was to test the hypothesis that the regular practice of mindfulness meditation is associated with increased physiological levels of melatonin. Melatonin may be related to a variety of biologic functions important in maintaining health and preventing disease, including breast and prostate cancer. Previous studies have shown melatonin production is photosensitive and we suggest here that it also may be psychosensitive. A cross-sectional study of 12-hour (20:00-08:00) urinary 6-sulphatoxymelatonin was conducted from which we analyzed data from 8 women who regularly meditate (RM) and 8 women who do not meditate (NM). All samples were collected in the homes of study participants. Volunteers were recruited to provide 12-hour overnight samples of urine. All subjects collected the samples on one night during the same 1-week period. There was no explicit intervention. However, all RM were either graduates of, or teachers in, the University of Massachusetts Stress Reduction and Relaxation Program. The main outcome measure was the total excretion of urinary 6-sulphatoxymelatonin. Multiple linear regression (Proc GLM in SAS) was performed to test the effect of meditation (RM vs NM) on 6-sulphatoxymelatonin. The results of the study were that after controlling for the non-significant effect of menstrual period interval, we found an effect of meditation group (RM vs NM: b = 1.983; F = 6.78; p = 0.02) and age (for each integer year: b = 0.169; F = 8.41; p = 0.01). The conclusion is that study results are consistent with our hypothesis and indicate that melatonin might be a useful parameter in testing similar psycho-social interventions.