Women who live in well-lit neighborhoods are at a greater risk for developing breast cancer than those who live in darker areas, find Israeli scientists.
The clincher is that energy efficient lightbulbs may be a culprit too, they write in the journal Chronobiology International. Time to go back to the Dark Ages?
The new study was led by chronobiologist Prof. Avraham Haim from the University of Haifa. He studied satellite images from NASA to see how much light was emitted from neighborhoods throughout Israel. He compared these light levels with breast cancer statistics from Israel's National Cancer Registry.
Rates of breast cancer in areas with "average" night lighting was 37 percent higher than in communities with the lowest amount of light, while the rate was a further 27 percent higher in areas with the highest amount of outdoor lighting, reports ISRAEL21c.
The findings of the study support the theory that exposure to too much light at night interferes with the production of a key hormone, melatonin, raising the risk of breast cancer.
Haim also warned that the study's findings raise questions about the increasing use of low energy fluorescent bulbs. These have been found to suppress melatonin production more than traditional light bulbs, he said.
Melatonin is a powerful antioxidant that suppresses and minimizes the formation of tumors. The hormone is produced by the pineal gland in the brain, primarily at night. Levels drop dramatically in the presence of light, particularly light produced by computer screens and energy-efficient fluorescent bulbs.
"Thomas Edison's invention of the electric light bulb was great and changed the world, but what does it do to health?" Haim said in The Jerusalem Post. "Light is not only a source of pollution, but also a carcinogen, and this should be taken into consideration."
TreeHugger related :: Health Care Without Harm: a Hippocratic Waste Oath ::Pure Prevention: Breast Cancer and the Environment ::Quote of the Day: Jeanne Rizzo on Cancer and the Environment ::How To Green Your Personal Care::Recycle For Breast Cancer