The Blue Light Blues

blue_lightWe’ve long heard that staring into your cell phone late at night may disturb your circadian rhythm and make it tough to sleep. The major culprit is the blue light the phone emits. Now, a new study claims that same blue light could lead to serious health consequences including breast and prostate cancer.

From Science Daily:

A study performed by an international team led by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal), a centre (sic) supported by the “la Caixa” Foundation, reports a link between exposure to blue light at night and higher risk of developing breast and prostate cancer. Blue light is a range of the visible light spectrum emitted by most white LEDs and many tablet and phone screens.

According to CNN.com, “The researchers found that those exposed to high levels of outdoor blue light at night had around a 1.5-fold higher risk of developing breast cancer and a twofold higher risk of developing prostate cancer, compared with those who were less exposed. Men exposed to high levels of indoor artificial light also had 2.8-fold higher risk of developing prostate cancer, according to the study.”

TechTimes.com quoted the study’s researchers as saying:

“Findings from this large case-control study of two cancers that have been associated with circadian disruption and light at night during shift work provide some support for the influence of artificial light at night (ALAN) for the development of cancer in the general population.”

Men’sHealth.com added that researchers “compiled data from more than 4,000 people. Participants included those with and without breast and prostate cancers between the ages of 20 and 85.The researchers used questionnaires to asses bedroom environments — like whether people slept in dark or dimly-lit rooms — and used photos from space to capture the levels of blue light found outdoors.”

While the study’s lead author, Alejandro Sánchez de Miguel , is quoted in Newswer.com as pointing out the focus of the research was on the blue light emitted by outdoor sources, that doesn’t mean he’s not concerned about smartphones and tablets.

“The same mechanism may be affecting the phones or the bulbs at home, because the physiology is the same.” He says this is the first study to specifically analyze cities’ blue light, which is known to lower the amount of melatonin in the brain and affect the body’s circadian rhythm.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on this new report and whether it will change any late-night screen behaviors in your home. Listening to your opinions and ideas is a critical part of our plan to use dialogue to find innovative new solutions to the health issues affecting the people of our state. And that helps us take another step toward our long-term goal of one day making Arizona the Healthiest State in the Nation!

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