Artificial light at night affects the development of cancer, says scientist

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Artificial light and lack of darkness in the night time affect the development of cancer and human aging, told RIA Novosti head of Department of carcinogenesis and oncogerontology National medical research center of Oncology named after N. N. Petrova, Ministry of health of Russia Vladimir Anisimov on the eve of the IV international Oncology forum «White nights», which was organized by the centre and will be held from 5-8 July in St. Petersburg.

«The effects of light, both artificial and natural, in a period of night rest of the person leads to the suppression of production of the hormone melatonin in the body, which in turn directly affects the development of neoplastic processes,» — said the expert.

He reminded that summer is a period of short nights in all regions of Russia, while in the Northern regions of Russia come the polar days when the sun may not come for several months, with continuous exposure to light can be a factor in the occurrence of cancer.

«For St. Petersburg residents living in the North this risk is significant, because the white nights, as well, and artificial lighting in the night, lead to the fact that the increased risk of tumor development. And accelerated aging,» — said the Agency interlocutor.

The rats

Anisimov described the experience in rats, which was conducted jointly with Petrozavodsk state University. Rats were kept in four different light modes: standard (12 hours light and 12 hours of darkness); at constant illumination, when all day the room was lit by the light; natural light, when the window did not zaveshivali curtains and the light is not lit (from the window penetrated urban night lighting); and there was a dark room where he switched on only the red light to care for the animals, as in otokomae. Each group was subjects who received the hormone melatonin (which is suppressed by light at night) and was introduced peptide that stimulates the production of melatonin.

«It turned out that with the constant coverage around the clock is accelerated aging and accelerated tumor development. Melatonin and peptide that stimulates its production, prevent it and reduced the effect. Moreover, both drugs prevented not only the appearance of tumors, but the development of the metabolic syndrome (a complex metabolic, hormonal and clinical disorders are risk factors for the development of cardiovascular diseases), obesity, infectious disease,» — said the expert.

He added that similar conclusions can be drawn when analysing the prevalence of certain types of tumors depending on the latitude of residence of the patients. «It was established that the closer to the North of the equator, the higher the frequency of certain types of tumors: breast cancer, colon … reduced the frequency of gastric cancer, cervical cancer,» — said the Agency interlocutor.

According to him, if the last two types of tumors are associated with infections that develop faster in a warm climate, against other types of tumors there is a clear connection with the suppression of melatonin. «It’s proven, and coverage is highly correlated with geographical latitude,» — said the expert.

He also said that the Israeli colleagues conducted an experiment proving these claims – they put a light pollution map of Israel on a map of the frequency of breast cancer, and these indices coincided. Similarly coincided maps for 164 countries.

How to prevent the development of cancer?

The expert noted that shift work and insomnia also increase the risk of developing some cancers, because people in such situations, similarly suffers from a lack of melatonin.

Anisimov said that there are ways to reduce the harmful effects.

«The lighting should not get into Windows. Need to hang the Windows with thick curtains at night, do not include bedtime TV and computer, not work at night,» he said.

The expert also recommends that night time use red light because it has minimal impact on melatonin production, whereas blue light inhibits it. In addition, a useful medication that contains the hormone melatonin in the period of white nights, this measure is recommended for people after 25-30 years.

According to Anisimov, the people in the cities most exposed to carcinogenic factors and factors that accelerate aging.

«Part of the longevity depends on genetics – about 25-35%, the rest is determined by environmental factors, and this balance is very important,» he said.

Among the other carcinogenic factors a person expert has identified air pollution from exhaust of cars. This is especially true in areas of residential development where cars make a stop, for example at road crossings and traffic lights – at the time of switching on and off of the engine pollution maximum.

High voltage transmission lines should not go near houses. 150 metres perpendicular to the power lines above the cancer risk, said the expert.