Healthy World, Healthy Nation, Healthy You

Time Matters: Chronobiology and Cancer Treatment – The Science of Getting Prevention, Treatment, and Recovery in Synch

Donald L. McEachron, Ph.D.
Teaching Professor, School of Biomedical Engineering, Science and Health Systems, Drexel University



Ph.D. in Neuroscience awarded in 1984 from the University of California at San Diego. Returned to the classroom for a Master’s Degree in Information Systems from Drexel University in 2004.

Author of some 60 publications in neuroscience, imaging, human evolution, education and chronobiology

Recently published first of 2-volume set on biological rhythms: Chronobioengineering: Introduction to Biological Rhythms with Applications, Volume 1


Humans show numerous legacy effects resulting from their evolutionary heritage. One of these is the critical role played by biological rhythms, especially circadian rhythms, in maintaining health and well-being. The modern urban 24/7 society threatens the stability of these rhythms, resulting in poor physiological and psychological health.

Circadian (Latin; ‘About a Day) rhythms result from internal biological clocks that display a nearly 24 hour cycle. These clocks coordinate most, if not all, biochemical and physiological activities within the body, including cell cycles. Properly synchronized, circadian rhythms ensure that the right things happen in the right places at the right times. One result of this is that both beneficial drugs and toxins can have very different effects at different times of day. In addition, disruption of rhythms may increase a person’s vulnerability to disease. Both these results carry significant implications for both the prevention and treatment of cancer.

Reference article:

3 Key Points:

  1. The reaction of the human body to drugs and toxins varies by time of day
  2. Disruption of rhythms increases the potential for disease and interferes with recovery
  3. Cancer prevention and chemotherapy should include time-of-day effects and circadian rhythm hygiene in order to maximize successful outcomes


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