Making circadian cancer therapy practical

Integr Cancer Ther. 2009 Dec;8(4):371-86. doi: 10.1177/1534735409352028.


Practical circadian therapy for the cancer patient involves 3 spheres of intervention-improving lifestyle, optimizing internal biochemical milieu, and adjusting treatment times. The potential value of improving overall circadian functioning is shown in the work of Mormont et al in which pronounced rest-activity rhythms were associated with better survival in colorectal cancer patients receiving chronomodulated chemotherapy. Lifestyle interventions that may improve circadian functioning involve diet, physical activity, and mind-body therapies. A diet that is anti-inflammatory and has appropriate carbohydrate intake, as well as regular meal timing, encourages normal circadian cycles. Adequate daytime physical activity encourages restful sleep, and morning light exposure during exercise may entrain melatonin rhythms. Meditation and other mind-body therapies can reduce anxiety and depression that may disrupt sleep. Aspects of the biochemical milieu that specifically disrupt circadian functioning are inflammation and stress hormones. Inflammation and cytokine disruption can be addressed with diet, herbs, and other natural substances. Chronomodulation of chemotherapy in a US clinical setting will be discussed. A series of 12 cases will be presented of patients who experienced grade 3 to 4 toxicities with various chemotherapy regimens for colorectal cancer. When rechallenged with the same regimens administered chronotherapeutically, none of the patients experienced grade 3 to 4 toxicity. Integrating all the above treatment modalities has the potential to improve both the quality of life and disease outcomes in cancer patients.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Chronotherapy*
  • Diet Therapy
  • Exercise
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Mind-Body Therapies
  • Neoplasms / therapy*