New study examines correlation between the seasons in Iceland, hormonal activity and cancer in women

The University of Iceland and the University Hospital have launched a new study where differences in hormonal count related to women’s menstrual circle with seasonal changes taken into consideration and daylight and darkness are looked at. Iceland’s northerly position makes they hours of daylight and different seasons interesting to look at in that respect, as the winters are long and dark and summers short and have 24 hours of daylight.

According to Visir’s report, Virginia Vitzthum, professor with the Anthropology department of Indiana University in the U.S., Co-Director at Human Biology Laboratory and Senior Research Scientist with the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction sais this is the first research of its kind. She ads that female hormones are a great influence on women’s health, both physically and mentally and with the short days in winter and long days in summer in Iceland the hormone production might be affected, particularly the bodies production of melatonin, the hormone important for sleep regulation and the immune system. Melatonin also has known effects on the reproductive organs of animals, which hasn’t yet been studied with humans. So far the effect melatonin has on human reproductive organs is unconfirmed but we think there is a connection. Vitzthum is one of those responsible for the study and sais that it’s findings might have the potential to have an influence on women’s health.

During the study the hormones are measured daily and questions about physical and mental wellbeing are asked. Fatigue is measured and sleep patterns are monitored. The sleep patterns of Nordic nations have never been measured until now. The long days might supress the melatonin and thereby increase the hormonal activity in women and if the short days in winter increase the melatonin and lessen the hormonal activity. The main focus is on the hormones produced by the ovaries: oestrogen, which is the primary female sex hormone and progestogen, the sex hormone involved in the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, and embryogenesis of humans and other species. The increase of those hormones affects the likelihood of breast cancer, and caner in the uterus and ovaries.

The study has been well received in Iceland so far, with over a hundred women registering to take part already. According to Vitzthum Icelandic women are interested in knowledge about their own menstrual circle and hormonal activity, which sets them quite apart from women in other parts of the world. Women’s hormonal activity and menstrual circle varies greatly but the women who choose hormonal contraception all receive the same formula and subsequently their reaction and side effects vary greatly. For example a more personal and individually based approach to hormonal contraception might go a long way for women’s well being.