A study by Virginia Tech biologists found that the benefits of a good night’s sleep include preventing cancer. These findings are likely to provide insight into the influence of the body’s internal clock on cancer development.
The researchers found that the protein human period 2 is responsible for regulating the body’s sleep cycle, or circadian rhythm. It also protects the body from developing sporadic forms of cancer. Unaltered, the human period 2 protein interacts with tumor suppressor proteins in cells to control cell division.
When environmental factors are altered, including sleep cycle disruption, the function of the protein is impaired. The connection between the protein, circadian rhythm, and cancer development was observed by studying various human and animal tumor cells.
The researchers found that repressing the human period 2 gene led to abnormal circadian rhythmicity and a malignant transformation. Researchers have long studied the connection between circadian rhythms and cancer development, particularly breast cancer, in women who work night shifts such as nurses and flight attendants.
Researchers are now working closely with patients to identify those who may be at risk for cancer due to the malfunction of the human period 2 protein and the gene that produces it.
Researchers found that a protein responsible for regulating the body’s sleep cycle, or circadian rhythm, also protects the body from developing sporadic forms of cancers.