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Question:
I've heard that melatonin may increase the risk of broken bones. I take melatonin regularly. Should I be concerned?

Answer:
Regular, long-term use of melatonin has been associated with an increase in fractures, which is also the case with some prescription sleep medications. This is despite the fact that melatonin may slightly increase bone density. For more details and an explanation of this apparent paradox, see the "Concerns and Cautions" section of the Melatonin Supplements Review.  

It may be also be advisable to avoid using melatonin, particularly at high dose, after a fracture, as proper fracture healing may be impaired, as also noted in the Review.


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Comments
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Susan16585   March 14, 2018
I have been taking 20 mg of melatonin at night for 10 years following a DX of metastatic breast cancer. Despite the extent of metastases and the grade of the tumors, all of which were prognosticators of a short life, my cancer receded and has not been visible on scans for 8 years. I don't know if melatonin made the difference, but I'm not changing anything.

Ralph11174   August 15, 2016
According to a recent study by Jie Liu, melatonin increases bone density and helps in bone remodelling as well (see web on m. and bone density). This would seem work against bone fractures?

ConsumerLab.com   August 16, 2016
Hi Ralph - Thank you for your question. Please see our response below to Raffaella, who asked about the same study.

Raffaella 11161   August 14, 2016
In this article (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3676828/) the conclusion is that melatonin may be used to treat osteoporosis:

"Due to its ability of regulating bone metabolism, enhancing bone formation, promoting osseointegration of dental plant and cell and tissue protection, melatonin may used as a novel mode of therapy for augmenting bone mass in bone diseases characterized by low bone mass and increased fragility, bone defect/fracture repair and dental implant surgery"

According to the study you mentioned, however, a person with osteoporosis should avoid melatonin because of the increased fracture risk. I wonder if the higher incidence of fracture is caused by grogginess and/or impaired coordination rather than melatonin itself. Can you please share more light on the issue? Thanks!

ConsumerLab.com   August 15, 2016
Hi Raffaella - As we note in the Melatonin Review and in the answer above, melatonin can increase bone density but, apparently, by interfering with normal bone remodeling - so it's not yet clear that it's a good way to strengthen bones. Your suggestion that "grogginess" may play a role in the increased risk of fractures is quite possible.

This CL Answer initially posted on 8/12/2016. Last updated 7/26/2017.

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