light bulb 88.
(photo credit: )
When your partner insists on turning down the lights in your bedroom, he is not
only in a romantic mood – he is also worried about reducing your risk of breast
A new study at the University of Haifa has confirmed suspicions
that exposure to artificial light at night, including at the workplace, is a
risk factor – in fact, the “best predictor” – for breast cancer – as it has
already been shown to be one for prostate cancer in men.
retrospective study was carried out on 1,679 Jewish and Arab Israeli women and
the level of light to which they were exposed in their bedrooms – from street
lamps outside the window, another room or night lights in the room.
the light of a TV set was examined as a factor. Almost half contracted breast
They were controlled for medical and family history,
socioeconomic status, alcohol usage, number of children and other
The team headed by Prof. Avraham Haim with Prof. Boris
Fortunov of the university, Prof. Hedy Rennert of the Technion- Israel Institute
of Technology and Dr. Itai Klug, who earned his doctorate based on this
research, which has just been published in the journal Chronobiology
Previous studies have pointed to a connection to breast
cancer risks and exposure to artificial light, but these had been based on light
from street fixtures and shopping malls and during shift work at night. The new
study focuses on light at home, and especially in the bedroom where they sleep
for hours at end.
The elevated risk is not due to working late at night
per se, but apparently stems rather from exposure to artificial light for long
periods during these hours. The reduced production of the hormone melatonin
seems to interfere with the division of cells, which is one of the mechanisms
that are harmed in cancer.
The participants were asked about light in the
bedroom from electrical fixtures and from street fixtures and other rooms, as
well as whether they went to sleep with the TV set turned on.
asked to rate the amount of light to which they were exposed in the bedroom –
none, a little, quite a lot or completely light. The most significant predictor
of breast cancer was exposure to artificial light in the bedroom.
factor in Jewish women was whether they had given birth and to how many
children. Arab women, who on average have more children than Jewish women, were
at a lower risk of breast cancer.
When the researchers studied exposure
to artificial light in the bedroom only among Jewish women, the significance was
even stronger than with Arab women included.
Artificial light is without
doubt an irrevocable part of Western life, and its influence will only increase
with the years, the researchers said. But fortunately, this “environmental
pollutant” can easily be controlled,” concluded Haim, who added that awareness
of the risk should be increased.