A new study suggests that tumor cells from people with breast cancerThey are more likely to spread at night than during the day. The finding sheds light on new forms of treatment and progression of the disease, as well as an evolution in the way of conceiving medicine, since in the past it was believed that tumors launched Carcinogenic cells during the 24 hours.
The scientific community has investigated for decades the influence of heart rate in cancer. Now the discovery found that cancerous tumors wake up when patients are still resting. According to study co-author Nicola Aceto, a cancer biologist at the Zurich Federal Institute of Technology in Switzerland, this is a further step in understanding metastasis.
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What is metastasis?
Metastasis is a process in which cancer cells break away from where they started and form new tumors in other parts of the body. The “Nature” portal points out that this happens because the cells travel through the blood to other locations.
“The discovery reveals a basic human physiology that has so far flown under the radar. […]Qing-Jun-Ming, a chronologist at the University of Manchester in the UK, told the outlet.
If doctors find cancer early, patients usually respond well to treatment. However, things become much more difficult if the cancer has already metastasized.
Cancer’s race against the clock
“Nature” indicated that the International Agency for Research on Cancer added the uninterrupted circadian rhythm (cycles of physical change) as a carcinogenic factor, given this, several studies pointed out that people who worked during night shifts, as in the case of nurses, were more likely to develop breast cancer, however, specialists continue to inquire about it.
The circadian rhythm has an important influence with respect to body processes, such as metabolism and sleep schedule. This, in turn, is controlled by genes that express specific molecules during the 24 hours. In the case of cancer, experts believed that the cells were so worn out that they also adjusted to this factor, however, they realized that this could not be entirely true.
For the analysis, the team of scientists first used tumor-bearing laboratory mice. They noticed that the levels of cancer cells varied according to the time of day in which blood had been withdrawn. Subsequently, the model was reproduced in 30 patients with breast cancer from whom blood samples were collected at two times, at 4:00 am and at 10:00 am.
Given this, they discovered that most of the levels of the cells appeared in the samples taken at 4 in the morning with almost 80% of them, when the patients were sleeping.
Cells that leave the tumor at night also divide more rapidly and therefore have a greater potential to form metastases, compared to circulating cells that leave the tumor during the day.
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Aceto expressed that one of the aspects, thrown by the study, that surprised him the most was confirming what he had been suspecting for a long time, that human beings developed more cancer cells when the organism rests, which differentiated them from the way cancer acts in mice, it produced more cancer cells during the day, but how did they come to this conclusion?
The specialists grafted breast cancer tumors onto the mice and monitored their cell count 24 hours a day. Because the animal models are more active at night, they tend to rest during the day, sometimes reaching 88 times higher cell concentration in the morning.
How do they measure cancer cells?
Doctors measure the levels of CTC in the blood, refers the portal, and it is a liquid biopsy that helps diagnose the progress of cancer in a patient. The information obtained by doctors also shows that the time of taking levels can be misleading for treatments.
So far, scientists point out that it is necessary to continue in the process of analysis to determine the factors why cancer cells in humans are more active at night.
Understanding this new study would lead to better cancer treatment, however, it is a long process for the world of medicine and science. One of the collaborators of the study warned that rest or sleep should not be thought of as an enemy for people with breast cancer, since this still does not establish the relevant hours of rest and it has been shown that those who sleep less amount have a higher risk of death. In addition, the heart rate, which is an important factor, would also trigger rapid mobility of the condition.
“It just means that cells prefer a specific phase of the 24-hour cycle to enter the blood stream,” he concluded.
With information from EFE
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