Researchers at the University of Exeter and the Barcelona Institute for Global Health have concluded that there is a “strong link” between exposure to LED lighting and increased risk of breast and prostate cancer. The “blue light” emitted by LED lights seems to affect circadian rhythms and sleeping patterns, which then impacts hormone levels. “Humans have evolved to need light during the day and darkness at night,” researcher Alejandro Sánchez de Miguel told The Telegraph. “As towns and cities replace older lighting, we’re all exposed to higher levels of ‘blue’ lights, which can disrupt our biological clocks.”

LED streetlamp post on white background

Previous research has documented the carcinogenic risk of night-shift work and artificial light. “We know that depending on its intensity and wave length, artificial light, particularly in the blue spectrum, can decrease melatonin production and secretion,” study co-author Martin Aubé explained to EurekAlert. In addition to regulating sleep cycles, melatonin functions as an anti-inflammatory antioxidant. Blue light, which is also emitted from tablet, phone, computer, and TV screens, is one of the shortest-wavelength, highest-energy forms of light.

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This research comes as many cities are making the switch to LED streetlights, which are more energy-efficient and cheaper than traditional lighting. Published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, the study included more than 4,000 people in 11 distinct regions of Spain in its analysis. It also incorporated images taken aboard the International Space Station to gain a fuller sense of blue light’s impact on a global scale. Public Health England has recommended further study of the impact of LED lighting before it is more widely adopted, while the American Medical Association has recommended that municipalities and businesses install the lowest-intensity LED lighting, with shading to provide additional protection.

+ Environmental Health Perspectives

Via The Telegraph

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