It looks like there is yet another item in our daily lives that can affect our health! A new study published in the Environmental Health Perspectives has shown that people have a higher risk of breast or prostate cancer when they are exposed to blue light.
In case you didn’t know, we’re surrounded by blue light every day and these lights are usually emitted by artificial lighting such as outdoor LEDs, smartphones and tablets. Uh-oh! The study measured the levels of exposure to outdoor and indoor artificial lights that the respondents faced daily.
The researchers took the data from 4,000 respondents who were living in Barcelona and Madrid, with 2,000 of them being breast or prostate cancer patients and the other 2,000 people made up the control group.
They made a shocking discovery that showed that people who faced high levels of outdoor blue light at night increased the risk of developing breast cancer by 1.5 times and prostate cancer by 2 times. They also found that men who were constantly exposed to indoor artificial light had a 2.8-fold higher risk of developing prostate cancer.
CNN reported that Alejandro Sánchez de Miguel, a researcher at the Environment and Sustainability Institute at the University of Exeter and a lead author on the study said, “The real breakthrough of this study is that, for the first time, we can see directly the colour in higher resolution and relate it to individual cases. Though previous studies have used satellite imagery to calculate the intensity of artificial light at night in large cities, the new study is the first to look specifically at the amount of blue light.”
The study suggests that other artificial light colours were not affected. Instead, it was just the blue light that encourages the development of cancer rather than just the brightness of light.
Scientists have deduced that this is because blue light has more energy than other colours in the spectrum, which means that it has a shorter wavelength. Blue light has long been known to decrease the production of melatonin in the brain, which disrupts the body’s circadian rhythm.
That’s not a good thing as melatonin is a hormone that helps synchronise our body clocks. If this clock is disrupted, then it could increase the risk of cancer. In addition, as melatonin is an antioxidant, they actually help suppress the growth of hormone-sensitive cancers such as breast and prostate cancer.
Now, most of us are surrounded by artificial light daily but don’t freak out yet because the study also shows that blue light is only present in outdoor LEDs that have a colour temperature of more than 3,000 Kelvin. Although that beautiful blue light is also emitted from smartphones and tablet, the study only measured the effects from outdoor LEDs at the moment.
Of course, there are measures to be taken to minimise this cancer-causing risk. Cities should replace their outdoor LEDs as soon as possible with lights that emit lesser than 3,000 Kelvin. Plus, you can also reduce your exposure to blue lights by downloading light-filtering apps on your gadgets. If you have an iPhone, there is alread a Night Shift setting automatically installed in your phone.
BRB, going to use those apps on my phone!
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