Energy saving bulbs could bring on breast cancer

January 31st, 2011 - 5:21 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Jan 31 (IANS) Energy saving light bulbs could result in higher breast cancer rates if used late at night.

Abraham Haim, professor of biology at Haifa University in Israel, said that the bluer light that compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) emitted, closely mimicked daylight.

But the flip side is it disrupted the body’s production of the hormone melatonin more than older-style filament bulbs, which cast a yellower light, the journal Chronobiology International reports.

Melatonin, thought to protect against some breast and prostate cancers, is produced and secreted by the brain’s pineal gland round the clock, according to the Telegraph.

Highest secretion levels are at night but light depresses production, even if one’s eyes are shut.

A possible link between night time light exposure and breast cancer risk has been known for over a decade, since a study was published showing female shift workers were more likely to develop the disease.

Haim explained that a recent study by him and fellow colleagues had found a much stronger association than previous research between night-time bedroom light levels and breast cancer rates.

Their study found breast cancer rates were up to 22 percent higher in women who slept with a light on, compared to those who slept in total darkness.

The bluer light also made people more alert and increased their body temperature and heart rate.

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