Academic journal article International Journal of Humanities and Peace

Blind Individuals Have Lower Cancer Risk: Melatonin Link Postulated

Academic journal article International Journal of Humanities and Peace

Blind Individuals Have Lower Cancer Risk: Melatonin Link Postulated

Article excerpt

Possibly because they have higher blood levels of melatonin, blind individuals may be less likely to develop cancer than their sighted counterparts, new research suggests.

In the study, which looked at cancer incidence among 1,567 totally blind individuals and 13,292 visually impaired subjects, those who were totally blind were 30% less likely to develop all types of cancer than the general population, Swedish researchers explained in Epidemiology (1998;9:490-494).

In addition, totally blind participants had a lower risk of all cancers than did their less visually impaired counterparts.

"The findings support the hypothesis that blind people have a lower cancer incidence, although other explanations than the higher melatonin exposure must also be considered," concluded Maria Feychting, Ph.D., of the Institute for Environmental Medicine at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden.

Public-health officials not affiliated with the study cautioned that the new results in no way justify the consumption of melatonin supplements by members of the general public.

"There seems to be a connection between light exposure and cancer and it's worth exploring this hypothesis further," said accompanying editorial author Robert A. Hahn. Ph.D.. M.P.H., an epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

But the data are very preliminary, he said. and it is too early to say that melatonin supplementation can reduce cancer risk among members of the general population.

This is "an interesting article" that offers an "intriguing observation:' commented Michael Thun, Ph. …

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