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Melatonin Protects Against Radiation Damage

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According to research, about half of all cancer patients undergo radiation. One of the most common questions I get is how to protect against radiation damage. According to the study linked and excerpted below, melatonin protects against radiation damage. Meaning, yes, radiation kills cancer cells but at the same time radiation also kills healthy cells

As a long-term cancer survivor, I am comfortable advocating for the benefits of radiation therapy. As long as the cancer patient understands the possible short, long-term and late stage side effects of radiation therapy.

In addition, it’s important to understand that melatonin is not an FDA approved therapy. This simply means that the FDA has not researched an approved melatonin. Chances are good that your conventional oncologist will know little if anything about the ability of melatonin protecting against radiation damage.

What are the short, long-term and late stage side effects of radiation therapy in cancer?

Short-term side effects:

  1. Fatigue: Feeling tired and lacking energy is a common short-term side effect of radiation therapy.
  2. Skin changes: Radiation can cause skin irritation, redness, itching, and blistering in the area being treated.
  3. Hair loss: Hair loss may occur in the area receiving radiation, although this typically depends on the dosage and location of treatment.
  4. Nausea and vomiting: These symptoms may occur, especially if radiation therapy is directed towards the abdomen or pelvis.
  5. Difficulty swallowing: Radiation therapy to the head and neck area can lead to difficulty swallowing or throat soreness.
  6. Changes in appetite: Some patients may experience changes in appetite, taste alterations, or mouth sores.
  7. Radiation pneumonitis: Radiation to the chest area can cause inflammation of the lungs, leading to symptoms like cough, shortness of breath, and chest pain.

Long-term side effects:

  1. Radiation fibrosis: Over time, radiation can cause scarring and stiffness of tissues in the treated area.
  2. Lymphedema: Radiation therapy targeting lymph nodes can disrupt the normal flow of lymph fluid, leading to swelling and discomfort in the affected area.
  3. Radiation-induced secondary cancers: Although rare, radiation therapy can increase the risk of developing a second cancer later in life, particularly in the area that received radiation.
  4. Dental problems: Radiation to the head and neck region can damage salivary glands and increase the risk of dental issues such as cavities and tooth decay.
  5. Hormonal changes: Radiation therapy to the pelvic area may affect reproductive organs and hormonal balance, leading to infertility or other hormonal issues.
  6. Cognitive changes: Some patients may experience cognitive changes, such as memory problems or difficulty concentrating, especially if the brain is exposed to radiation.

Late-stage side effects:

  1. Chronic pain: Some patients may experience persistent pain in the treated area, known as radiation-induced chronic pain.
  2. Organ damage: Radiation therapy can damage organs in the treatment field, leading to long-term dysfunction.
  3. Cardiovascular complications: Radiation to the chest area can increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases such as heart disease and stroke.
  4. Radiation necrosis: In rare cases, radiation therapy can cause tissue death (necrosis) in the treated area, which may require surgical intervention.

Have you been diagnosed with cancer? What type? What stage? Are you considering radiation therapy? Send me an email if you’d like to learn more about evidence-based therapies that can protect you from radiation damage, heal radiation damage and/or non-toxic integrative therapies.

Good luck,

David Emerson

  • Cancer Survivor
  • Cancer Coach
  • Director PeopleBeatingCancer

Melatonin administration in testicular damage caused by low and high-dose rate radiotherapy: An experimental study


  • No difference was found between the damages caused by FF and FFF dose rates in rat testicular tissue.
  • Melatonin administration increased ZO-1 and LECTIN expression in testicular tissue damaged by radiotherapy.
  • Melatonin administration decreases the OSI value increased by radiotherapy in rat testis.
  • Melatonin administration decreased the apoptotic index increased by radiotherapy in rat testis.
  • Melatonin may be a safe antioxidant that can be applied to prevent radiotherapy-induced testicular injury.


As a result of comparing the FF and FFF radiotherapy groups with the control group, a statistically significant difference was observed in histopathological, biochemical, immunohistochemical and immunofluorescent parameters (p < 0.001). An improvement in these parameters was observed in the groups where melatonin was applied along with radiotherapy (p < 0.001). Additionally, no statistically significant difference was found between FF and FFF dose rates (p > 0.05).


No significant difference was observed between these low- and high-dose rates of radiotherapy in terms of testicular damage and the effect of melatonin. Further, melatonin may be useful in preventing testicular damage caused by low- and high-dose rate radiotherapy…

Radiotherapy (RT) is one of the most commonly used methods in cancer treatment, and approximately 50–60% of cancer patients receive radiotherapy (Spyropoulos et al., 2011)…

For the treatment of pelvic cancers, abdominopelvic irradiation affects not only the tumour site but also healthy organs. Therefore, it is vital to protect the testicle, which is a radiosensitive organ, against ionizing radiation damage (Khan et al., 2015; He et al., 2018). Side effects of ionizing radiation may cause oxidative stress and apoptotic changes in testicular tissue (Abedpour et al., 2022; Riley, 1994).

To ensure optimal tumour control at higher radiation doses, healthy tissues must be protected against unwanted radiation damage…


Our study showed that melatonin can be used as a radioprotective against the cytotoxic effects of FF and FFF beams in rat testicular tissue considering our histopathological, biochemical, immunohistochemical and immunofluorescent findings.”

The melatonin immunomodulatory actions in radiotherapy

“Melatonin can affect different immune cells and organelles, and mitigate functional changes caused by ionizing radiation in these cells and organelles. These features suggest that melatonin is a good candidate for protection of normal tissue during radiation toxicity in different tissues…”

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