The objective of this article is to review the basis supporting the usefulness of melatonin as an adjuvant therapy for breast cancer (BC) prevention in several groups of individuals at high risk for this disease. Melatonin, as a result of its antiestrogenic and antioxidant properties, as well as its ability to improve the efficacy and reduce the side effects of conventional antiestrogens, could safely be associated with the antiestrogenic drugs presently in use. In individuals at risk of BC due to night shift work, the light-induced inhibition of melatonin secretion, with the consequent loss of its antiestrogenic effects, would be countered by administering this neurohormone. BC risk from exposure to metalloestrogens, such as cadmium, could be treated with melatonin supplements to individuals at risk of BC due to exposure to this xenoestrogen. The BC risk related to obesity may be reduced by melatonin which decrease body fat mass, inhibits the enhanced aromatase expression in obese women, increases adiponectin secretion, counteracts the oncogenic effects of elevated concentrations of leptin; and decreases blood glucose levels and insulin resistance. Despite compelling experimental evidence of melatonin's oncostatic actions being susceptible to lowering BC risk, there is still a paucity of clinical trials focused on this subject.
Keywords: antiestrogens; breast cancer risk; cadmium; light-at-night; melatonin; metalloestrogens; obesity; shift work.