Street lamps could be triggering thousands of cancer cases, say University of Exeter researchers. A study found out that men and women that live in large cities are one and a half and twice more likely to develop cancer. The scientists believe it’s the LEDs from street lamps, which emit blue light.
Melatonin is produced between 9 pm and 8 am by a gland in the brain and if the levels are too low, it increases the levels of estrogen, which could trigger breast cancer. Low levels of melatonin also increase genetic mutations, a weak immune system, and a reduced DNA repair, increasing the risk of prostate cancer.
Melatonin secretion can be affected by exposure to blue light from LEDs that disrupt our biological clocks also known as the circadian rhythm.
We’re Saving Energy But Causing Other Issues
In men, prostate cancer and in women, breast cancer, have been linked with a lack of a hormone that is produced when we sleep. This study also mentioned blue light coming from smartphones and tablets. And the same goes for outdoor ads that use LEDs.
In the UK, in order to lower emissions and to have a cheaper lighting, hundreds of thousands of street lights are now LED.
Dr. Alejandro Sanchez de Miguel (University of Exeter) said that blue light “can disrupt our biological clocks.” He also said that we need to know better what increases our risk of cancer:
“It is imperative that we know for sure whether this increases our risk of cancer. Scientists have long suspected this may be the case – now our innovative findings indicate a strong link. We must also investigate whether night-time exposure to the blue light emitted by smartphones and tablets increases our risk of cancer.”
The population of Industrialized Cities At Higher Risk
The research team compared medical data from over 4,000 men and women between 20 – 85 in Spain. The data showed that the urban citizens exposed to light blue had an increased risk of cancer compared to the ones that live in suburban or rural regions.
His team compared medical and epidemiological data of more than 4,000 men and women aged between 20 and 85 in 11 areas of Spain, mainly around Madrid and Barcelona. People that lived in darker rooms and used shutters had a lower risk.
Old lighting uses orange colors and modern lighting uses a bright blue emission. Some of the data on light for the indoors analysis was gathered through questionnaires and outdoor levels of light were used from photos taken by astronauts at the International Space Station.
Rex Austinwas born and raised in Thunder Bay Ontario on the shores of Lake Superior. Apart from running his own podcast (Ice Fishing And Other “Cool” Things), he spends his time canoeing and backpacking in Northern Ontario.. As a journalist Rex has published stories for Global News (Thunder Bay) we well as Buzz Feed and Joystiq. As a contributor to Great Lakes Ledger, Rex most covers science and health stories. Contact Rexhere