Findings of a new study have revealed that exposure to blue light at night may up the risk of developing prostate and breast cancer.
Blue light is generated by smartphone and tablet screens. Exposure to blue light particularly in dark surroundings and at night is known to have unwanted consequences on health.
One of the most notable effects of exposure to blue light is its effect on sleep. Smartphones and other gadgets interrupt sleep because the blue light they emit interrupts the function of melatonin, the body's natural sleep hormone.
Exposure to blue light at night when the surroundings are dark can cause the brain to misinterpret the blue light as the sun, which in turn, reduces the body's production of melatonin.
Disrupted sleep can lead to drowsiness, stomach cramps, irritability, and increased appetite. Habitual lack of sleep also has long-term consequences, which include increased odds of high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease. It can also impact the body's metabolism.
Link To Increased Risk For Breast And Prostate Cancers
In a new study published in the Environmental Health Perspectives, researchers sought to further investigate the effects of artificial light at night and found that exposure may increase the risk of breast and prostate cancers.
"There is evidence pointing to an association between exposure to artificial light at night, disruption of the circadian rhythm, and breast and prostate cancers," said Manolis Kogevinas, from ISGlobal. "We sought to determine whether night exposure to light in cities can affect the development of these two types of cancer."
The researchers looked at the data of over 4,000 adults in Spain. They found that participants who were exposed to higher levels of blue light had 1.5 times the risk of developing breast cancer, and twice the risk of developing prostate cancer compared with those who were less exposed to blue light.
"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," the researchers wrote in their study.
Health Risk Posed By Artificial Light Is A Public Health Issue
Artificial light at night is ubiquitous and for this reason, the researchers said it is in the interest of the public to know if exposure to these types of light can increase the risk of cancer.