Study: Cancer Cells Proliferate More During the Night


According to a recent study, cancer cells are more likely to assault the healthy parts of the body at night while the patient is sleeping. Through a process known as metastasis, cancer cells separate from the primary tumour and mix with blood cells to impact other bodily areas.

Researchers from the University Hospital Basel, University of Basel, and ETH Zurich collaborated on the study, which was published in Nature. It implies that when the sick person is sleeping at night, these cancer cells are active in the blood stream. The study, which involved breast cancer patients, revealed that there are much more circulating tumour cells (CTCs) in the blood at night than there are during the day.

According to Nicola Aceto, a professor at ETH Zurich, “the tumour awakens” when the sick person is asleep. The activity of CTCs in 30 female cancer patients was investigated by the researchers. They discovered that while the host is asleep, not only is the spread greater, but the tumour also divides more quickly. The CTCs have a greater chance of successfully undergoing metastases during night.

Researchers discovered that melatonin, a hormone that regulates the body’s circadian cycles of day and night, was responsible for controlling the escape of the CTCs from the original tumour into the circulation. The study also revealed how the timing of examinations and sample collection can affect oncologists’ conclusions.

“Some of my coworkers work in the early morning or the late evening. Additionally, they occasionally analyse blood at odd hours,” said Aceto. How the circulating tumour cells had different compositions depending on the time of day was a mystery.

The study, in Aceto’s opinion, shows that medical personnel need to meticulously track the amount of time they spend performing biopsies.

The study also lays the groundwork for a number of adjustments that might be made to cancer therapy. Next, scientists want to look into if using current treatments at various times throughout the day can increase their efficacy.