Increased Cancer Risk From Using Light During the Few Hours Before Bedtime, According to New Studies

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Using artificial light in the hours before bedtime prevents the flow of melatonin, a cancer fighting hormone. Wearing glasses that block the melatonin-suppressing-light allows normal flow that may cut the risk in half or better. Normal evening activities can go on. Better sleep is a bonus.

The May 2006 Journal “Cancer Cause Control” contains scientific studies that again warn of the danger of the nighttime use of artificial light. They confirm many previous studies that conclude that suppression of the hormone melatonin by exposing the eyes to light during the night leads to an increased risk of breast cancer and other cancers as well. Scientists have been issuing this warning since the early 1990’s. For some unexplained reason the media have been very slow to make this information known to those with the greatest need to know, namely cancer survivors and those at high risk because of their genetics. Perhaps the reason is the false belief that there is nothing people can do about it, so why alarm them. Less well publicized studies by Brainard in the US and Thapan in the UK showed that not all colors of light have the same effect on the pineal gland, the source of melatonin. It is the blue component is white light that causes suppression of melatonin. A study lead by Kayumov in Canada showed that subjects wearing glasses that blocked the blue light continued making melatonin, even though exposed to bright light, just as they had during previous nights when they were held in darkness. To avoid the danger of increased risk of cancer, avoiding light all together, or wearing glasses that block the blue light, for a few hours before bedtime, should become normal practice for everyone, based on these studies.

The many cancer related organizations and the media in general need to make this known to the general population. Close fitting glasses that completely block the light at wavelength less than about 530nm are available on the internet. These are the portions of the spectrum causing melatonin suppression. Searching the internet with key words “cancer low blue lights” will locate them. Another solution is to block the blue light at the source by covering it with a filter that absorbs the blue light. Filters for TV and computer screens along with light bulbs with filters can also be found on the internet.

In addition to helping fight cancer, melatonin also promotes sleep. Wearing glasses that block the blue light for a couple of hours before bedtime allows the melatonin to begin flowing. By bedtime there is a good supply. People report falling sleep very quickly and sleeping more soundly.

Two excellent articles in the non-profit Science News “Bright Light: Big Cancer” by Ben Harder and “Light Impacts” by Janet Raloff have recently pointed out the importance of light and how it impacts human health and nature in general.

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Richard Hansler
LIGHT AND HEALTH FOUNDATION
216 397 1657
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