Improved Sleep And Reduced Cancer Risk Possible With Blue-Blocking Eyeglasses

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Glasses that block the blue rays responsible for melatonin suppression are now available to healthcare professionals at reduced cost from Photonic Developments LLC. A just released Israeli study showed that a high breast cancer rate is associated with exposure to light at night. The blue rays in light suppress melatonin. Melatonin suppression is thought to be the link between light exposure and breast cancer.

Photonic Developments LLC, a spin-off company from the John Carroll University group studying the effects of light on health, is making their glasses available to healthcare professionals at up to a 40% discount. They are available at a website http://www.lowblueliights.com. It is well established that light suppresses the cancer fighting hormone melatonin. Earlier U.S. studies had shown it is the blue rays that suppress melatonin. The JCU scientists have developed light bulbs that don't produce blue light and glasses that block it. By wearing glasses for a few hours before bedtime, the 9-11 hours of melatonin flow enjoyed by blind people can be restored. This long flow of melatonin is thought to explain the much lower breast cancer incidence of blind women.

In response to the Israeli study and the recent classification of shift work as a probable carcinogen by the World Health Organization, the JCU scientists are now recommending that everyone wear blue-blocking glasses for a few hours before bedtime. Several studies, beginning in the 90's, found that nurses who had worked night shift for many years had approximately double the incidence of breast cancer as nurses who had not worked night shift.

Human beings, kept in darkness, make melatonin about 10 hours a night according to a Harvard study. Most Americans only make melatonin for 6 or 7 hours a night. By wearing glasses that block blue light, for a few hours before bedtime, melatonin flow may be increased to 9 to 10 hours a night. This difference may shift the balance between the factors that are producing cancer cells (radiation, toxins) and those eliminating cancer cells (antioxidants and estrogen blockers, like melatonin). The highest breast cancer rate reported in the US is about seven times the lowest cancer rate reported in a primitive community in India. Use of artificial light is probably one of the factors causing the difference.

It will be many years before it is proven by clinical trials whether maximizing melatonin can decrease cancer risk. In the meantime, anyone who can reason can make the prudent response and avoid blue light in the hours before bedtime, by wearing blue-blocking glasses or using light bulbs that don't produce the blue rays. Because the glasses only block the blue rays, normal evening activities can continue, like watching television, reading or working on a computer.
At present the blue-blocking glasses are being sold primarily to people who have sleep problems. They are available on a website owned by Photonic Developments LLC, http://www.lowbluelights.com. By consistently wearing the glasses for a few hours before bedtime, melatonin is produced in advance of actually going to bed. Sleep comes quickly and people report sleeping more soundly. Melatonin causes the whole body to slow down and drops the core body temperature.

To both enhance sleep and reduce the risk of cancer by this simple change in life style has great appeal to many people. Making the glasses more accessible by reducing the cost to healthcare professionals should encourage broader use.

The glasses and lightbulbs have also been found useful in treating rapid cycling bipolar disorder. Testing of their value in treating postpartum depression, fibromyalgia/chronic fatigue syndrome and ADHD is in progress.

For information contact Richard L. Hansler, Ph.D. at 216 397 1657.

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RICHARD HANSLER
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