Monday, April 12, 2010

What Next? Light At Night Can Cause Cancer

Small or weak bladders are a major annoyance. It means stopping a zillion times on road trips, dealing with smelly, public restrooms or, worse yet, port-a-potties at those venues that lack civilized facilities. We don't have the option of entering, taking one whiff and walking right back out, opting to hold it in rather than offend our senses.

We also have to contend with unsatisfactory sleep patterns when our bladders force us to rise multiple times throughout the night to relieve ourselves. But for those of us who make nightly trips to the bathroom not only do we have to deal with the annoyance factor, switching on the light can actually be harmful for our health. Not only can it make it more difficult to get back to sleep when we return to our warm beds, British and Israeli researchers seem to think it can also cause cancer. It seems pretty bizarre that something as seemingly innocuous as turning on the light in the middle of the night could cause something as drastic as the nasty "C" word, but apparently it's a big possibility.

Researchers in the UK and Israel found that when a light is turned on at night, it triggers an 'over-expression' of cells linked to the formation of cancer.

Previous research has linked an increased risk of breast cancer and prostate cancer in workers exposed to artificial light on night shifts.

But researchers said the latest research is the first that shows even short-term exposure can be linked to an increased risk of cancer.

The tests were carried out on mice at Leicester University by geneticist Professor Charalambos Kyriacou.

During the trial, a group of mice were exposed to a light for one hour. When compared with mice who had been kept in the dark, changes were found in cells in the brain responsible for the circadian clock which controls body function.

Dr Rachel Ben-Shlomo, of the University of Haifa, said in the journal Cancer Genetics and Cytogenetics that people waking at night would be best advised not to turn on the light.

She said: 'We believe that any turning on of artificial light in the night has an impact on the body clock. It's a very sensitive mechanism.
'If you want to get up to go to the toilet, you should avoid reaching for the light switch. There are some plug-in lights that just glow, that are safe and you could use them as an alternative.'

She added: 'These latest findings are preliminary research and we are now looking into this area in more detail.'

At least there's a simple solution for the night trips to the bathroom, a nightlight, but what about people who work the night shift? What are they supposed to do? As for my late night blogging marathons, I think I'm going to switch to the daytime, just in case.

1 comment:

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