Melatonin increases both life span and tumor incidence in female CBA mice

J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2001 Jul;56(7):B311-23. doi: 10.1093/gerona/56.7.b311.


From the age of 6 months until their natural deaths, female CBA mice were given melatonin with their drinking water (20 mg/l) for 5 consecutive days every month. Intact mice served as controls. The results of this study show that the consumption of melatonin did not significantly influence food consumption, but it did increase the body weight of older mice; it did not influence physical strength or the presence of fatigue; it decreased locomotor activity and body temperature; it inhibited free radical processes in serum, brain, and liver; it slowed down the age-related switching-off of estrous function; and it increased life span. However, we also found that treatment with the used dose of melatonin increased spontaneous tumor incidence in mice. For this reason, we concluded that it would be premature to recommend melatonin as a geroprotector for long-term use.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aging / drug effects
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Body Weight / drug effects
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Estrus / drug effects
  • Female
  • Free Radicals / blood
  • Free Radicals / metabolism
  • Incidence
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Locomotion / drug effects
  • Longevity / drug effects*
  • Melatonin / adverse effects
  • Melatonin / pharmacology
  • Melatonin / physiology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred CBA
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Neoplasms / chemically induced*


  • Free Radicals
  • Melatonin