The C.A.M. Report
Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Fair, Balanced, and to the Point
  • About this web log

    This blog ran from 2006 to 2016 and was intended as an objective and dispassionate source of information on the latest CAM research. Since my background is in pharmacy and allopathic medicine, I view all CAM as advancing through the development pipeline to eventually become integrated into mainstream medical practice. Some will succeed while others fail. But all are treated fairly here.

  • About the author

    John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.

  • Common sense considerations

    The material on this weblog is for informational purposes. It is not medical advice or counsel. Be smart, consult your health professional before using CAM.

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    Melatonin cream protects from radiation burns in breast cancer patients

    Redness, tenderness, and swelling of the skin are common during radiotherapy for breast cancer.

    Melatonin-based creams protect from these effects in rats. So, researchers at Tel Aviv University, in Israel, tested it in women with breast cancer.

    First, the details.

    • After lumpectomy, 47 were randomly assigned to a treatment group during radiotherapy.
      • Melatonin cream applied twice daily
      • Placebo
    • All women received 50Gy whole breast radiotherapy with 2Gy/fx.
    • There was no difference between the groups regarding histology, stage, treatment, skin color, BMI, and the details of their surgery.
    • Patients were examined, photographed.
    • They completed a detailed questionnaire weekly and 2 weeks following radiotherapy.
    • The ROTG (Radiation Therapy Oncology Group) criteria were used to measure severity of skin reactions.
    • Neither the patients nor researchers knew the treatment given — double blind.

    And, the results.

    • Grade 1 or 2 acute dermatitis occurred significantly less in the melatonin group immediately following radiotherapy (59% vs 90%) — almost a 50% reduction.
      • For comparison, up to 90% of breast cancer patients have acute skin reactions during radiation therapy — grade 2 severity in about a third of cases.
    • 4 times as many patients had grade 0 toxicity with melatonin vs placebo.
    • The difference was greatest among women older then 50, with 56% having grade 1 and or 2 in the melatonin group vs 100% in the placebo a — a significant difference.
    • Smokers in the melatonin group did significantly better than non-smokers.

    The bottom line?

    The authors concluded that these are; “promising results for the melatonin containing cream in preventing radiation induced skin reactions.”

    It’s a small study, and more research is planned.

    10/10/10 09:46 JR

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