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Light pollution has been implicated in disruption of the human and animal circadian rhythm, and strongly suspected as an etiology of suppressed melatonin production, depressed immune systems, and increase in cancer rates such as breast cancers
New research shows that throwing off natural circadian rhythms over the long term can seriously disturb the body and brain, causing weight gain and impulsive behavior.
Exposure to frequent artificial light at night appears to increase the breast cancer risk among women in their homes, according to an analysis by a Long Island researcher.
Night life under electric lighting may cause serious behavioral disorders and physical diseases including cancer, according to a specialist team led by Professor N.N. Pertov Scientific Research Institute of Oncology, Russian Ministry of Healthcare
Constant exposure to artificial hospital lighting may damage the development of premature babies' biological clocks, research suggests. (ed: yet another example of how little we really know about light)
The impact of breast cancer on women across the world has been extensive and severe. As prevalence of breast cancer is greatest in industrialized regions, exposure to light at night has been proposed as a potential risk factor. This theory is supported by the epidemiological observations of decreased breast cancer in blind women and increased breast cancer in women who do shift-work.
An interview with the editor of Prevention Magazine... discussing their recent article linking Light Pollution and various forms of Cancer. (Requires MS Internet Explorer or Real Player to view)
Another article, this time in Science News, discusses the growing link between night time illumination... and certain forms of cancer. "Light at night is now clearly a risk factor for breast cancer," David E. Blask of the Bassett Research Institute in Cooperstown, N.Y says. "Breast tumors are awake during the day, and melatonin puts them to sleep at night." Add artificial light to the night environment, and "cancer cells become insomniacs"
Exposure to light at night appears to raise the risk of several types of cancer... Simply put, light at night snuffs out one of the body's most powerful anticancer crusaders, a hormone called melatonin.
A positive association was found
between night light intensity measured by satellite and breast cancer rates in
Abnormally high cancer rates were found along the 'seam lines' where extensive intense security lighting is in use. Abnormally low cancer incidence rates were found in low-income areas where outdoor and indoor artificial illumination is dimmer than elsewhere for economic reasons. For these two groups combined, the rate of breast cancer incidence was highly correlated with in-situ measures of illuminance at night.
The increased breast cancer risk in female night shift workers has been postulated to result from the suppression of pineal melatonin production by exposure to light at night. Exposure of rats bearing rat hepatomas or human breast cancer xenografts to increasing intensities of white fluorescent light during each 12-hour dark phase (0-345 µW/cm2) resulted in a dose-dependent suppression of nocturnal melatonin blood levels and a stimulation of tumor growth
"These results are the first to show that the tumor growth response to exposure to light during darkness is intensity dependent and that the human nocturnal, circadian melatonin signal not only inhibits human breast cancer growth but that this effect is extinguished by short-term ocular exposure to bright, white light at night."
Women who work night shifts are more likely to get breast cancer... due to suppressed melatonin production... from exposure to light at night.