Photo: iflyfsx via Flickr
If you had a fear of flying before new research might have you think twice about extensive travel for work or pleasure. This recent study posits jet lag from travel can lead to life-threatening cancerous disease and dampened immune response. When you constantly travel across countries with different time zones you interrupt your natural circadian rhythm to disastrous ends. Find out more details about this comprehensive study published recently in Science Advances.
The case study
Scientists took a sample size of otherwise healthy mice and injected them with melanoma cells. Once these mice had the presence of cancerous cells in their bodies the real experiment could begin.
They placed one group of mice in a glass enclosure with regular light and dark cycles in line with normal circadian rhythms. The experimental group had irregular bursts of light and dark exposure, what would essentially be the equivalent amount of disruption experienced if you crossed over 21 different time zones per week! They conducted these light and dark cycle experiments for a few weeks and examined the progress of cancerous growth in the mice afterward.
The mice in the experimental group had far larger tumors, 3 times larger in fact, than their well-rested, undisturbed counterparts. What’s the scientific data behind this weird phenomenon?
This is what one of the core researchers discovered in explicit detail in this recent briefing.
“We combined two different approaches of chronobiology research to study the effects of circadian desynchronization on both tumor growth and immune rhythms, and we found a link. You need optimal rhythms in immune cells and immune humoral factors to quell rapid tumor growth. When circadian rhythms are chronically disrupted, these rhythms are impaired, inverted, or disappear entirely, which could help explain why the tumors were significantly larger in the desynchronized group.”
Better sleep equates to a better immune response
Getting a good night’s rest facilitates so many of our vital metabolic functions. Getting enough sleep boosts mood, aids productivity, increases levels of mindfulness, and now blunts cancer metastasis. A better immune system can be built through diet and exercise but sleep plays a key component according to research.
One of the co-authors of this study examines the necessity of preserving our circadian rhythms especially in folks with a higher risk for developing cancer. High-risk factors can be due to genetics or environmental factors. Leading a stressful life without considering holistic approaches to relieve external stressors can add to this risk. People who have more positive mindsets are also believed to fare better when it comes to elevated life spans and immune response.
Carla Finkielstein, an associate professor at the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute adds,
“This research also helps explain why some tumors win the race when a person is exposed to the chronically stressful conditions that occur when the environment and the body’s clocks are misaligned.”
What can you do to lower your chances of developing cancer?
There are many things we can do to boost our immune system and lower our chances of developing life-threatening diseases as we age. This research urges acute awareness of our circadian sleep cycles and honoring those cycles by partaking in activities or purchasing supplements that promote more restful sleep. We can travel less which is certainly easy during pandemic times. A slight adjustment to our diet and attitude can promote better rest and healthier environments in which our cells get the rest they need to carry out their vital functions in our bodies.
Establishing a healthy nighttime routine to ensure we get the recommended 6 to 8 hours our body and mind needs to fully function the next day is important as well!
What I took away from this study
It is absolutely key to provide the best environment for our cells to happily divide, replicate, and take on any unsupportive cellular damage brought on by free radicals, chronic inflammation, or viral enemies in our midst.
Revered author John Steinbeck agrees with the sentiment of the true value of undisturbed rest for our ultimate well-being with the following quote.
”It is a common experience that a problem difficult at night is resolved in the morning after the committee of sleep has worked on it.”