Melatonin supplements mimic the effects of your own naturally produced melatonin in promoting sleep. Research shows melatonin can have a substantial role in cancer outcomes and side effects.

Melatonin at a glance

Melatonin, a hormone produced by the pineal gland in your brain, helps regulate your sleep and wake cycles. Very small amounts of melatonin are found in fruits, nuts, olive oil, and wine. It is also available as a supplement used as a sleep aid. 

No clinical evidence shows melatonin is effective as a first-line cancer treatment, but studies show improved outcomes and response to conventional treatmentsthe cancer care offered by conventionally trained physicians and most hospitals; examples are chemotherapy, surgery, and radiotherapy when melatonin is used. Melatonin is also effective in managing several common symptoms and side effects of cancer treatments, with some effects in improving your body environment—your terrainthe internal conditions of your body, including nutritional status, fitness, blood sugar balance, hormone balance, inflammation and more—to make it less supportive of cancer. Its safety profile is excellent, although before surgery you should discuss with your oncology team whether to stop use temporarily.

CancerChoices ratings for melatonin

We rate melatonin on seven attributes, with 0 the lowest rating and 5 the highest.

See how we evaluate and rate complementary therapies ›

5

Improving treatment outcomes

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4

Optimizing your body terrain

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5

Managing side effects and promoting wellness

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4

Reducing cancer risk

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4

Use by integrative oncology experts

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4

Safety

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4

Affordability and access

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Author

Nancy Hepp, MS

Lead Researcher and Program Manager
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Ms. Hepp is a researcher and communicator who has been writing and editing educational content on varied health topics for more than 20 years. She serves as lead researcher, program manager, and writer for CancerChoices. Her graduate work in research and cognitive psychology, her master’s degree in instructional design, and her certificate in web design have all guided her in writing and presenting information for a wide variety of audiences and uses. Nancy’s service as faculty development coordinator in the Department of Family Medicine at Wright State University also provided experience in medical research, plus insights into medical education and medical care from the professional’s perspective.

Nancy Hepp, MS Lead Researcher and Program Manager

Reviewers

Laura Pole, RN, MSN, OCNS

Senior Clinical Consultant
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Laura Pole is senior clinical consultant for CancerChoices. Laura is an oncology clinical nurse specialist who has been providing integrative oncology clinical care, navigation, consultation, and education services for over 40 years. She is the co-creator and co-coordinator of the Integrative Oncology Navigation Training at Smith Center for Healing and the Arts in Washington, DC. Laura also manages the “Media Watch Cancer News That You Can Use” listserv for Smith Center/Commonweal. In her role as a palliative care educator and consultant, Laura has served as statewide Respecting Choices Faculty for the Virginia POST (Physician Orders for Scope of Treatment) Collaborative as well as provided statewide professional education on palliative and end-of-life care for the Virginia Association for Hospices and Palliative Care.

For CancerChoices, Laura curates content and research, networks with clinical and organizational partners, brings awareness and education of integrative oncology at professional and patient conferences and programs, and translates research into information relevant to the patient experience as well as clinical practice.

Laura sees her work with CancerChoices as a perfect alignment of all her passions, knowledge and skills in integrative oncology care. She is honored to serve you.

Laura Pole, RN, MSN, OCNS Senior Clinical Consultant

Dugald Seely, ND, MSc

Physician, researcher, and CancerChoices advisor
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Dugald Seely, ND, MSc is a naturopathic doctor and clinician scientist living in Ottawa, Canada. Dr. Seely serves patients living with cancer in clinic and is active in research building on the base of evidence for integrative and naturopathic oncology. Helping to pioneer the delivery and development of integrative oncology, Dr. Seely is the founder and executive director of The Centre for Health Innovation (CHI); an adjunct professor at the University of Ottawa, Faculty of Medicine; executive director for research and clinical epidemiology at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine; and president of the Oncology Association of Naturopathic Physicians (OncANP). Dr. Seely has led numerous clinical trials and synthesis research over the past 18 years and has published and presented internationally. Dugald is the father of two and most happy when spending time with his family in the wild outdoors.

Dugald Seely, ND, MSc Physician, researcher, and CancerChoices advisor

Last update: October 14, 2022

Last full literature review: October 2021

CancerChoices provides information about integrative in cancer care, a patient-centered approach combining the best of conventional care, self care and evidence-informed complementary care in an integrated plan cancer care. We review complementaryin cancer care, complementary care involves the use of therapies intended to enhance or add to standard conventional treatments; examples include supplements, mind-body approaches such as yoga or psychosocial therapy, and acupuncture therapies and self-care lifestyle actions and behaviors that may impact cancer outcomes; examples include eating health-promoting foods, limiting alcohol, increasing physical activity, and managing stress practices to help patients and professionals explore and integrate the best combination of conventionalthe cancer care offered by conventionally trained physicians and most hospitals; examples are chemotherapy, surgery, and radiotherapy and complementary therapies and practices for each person.

Our staff have no financial conflicts of interest to declare. We receive no funds from any manufacturers or retailers gaining financial profit by promoting or discouraging therapies mentioned on this site.