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Light Pollution Raises Risks of Breast Cancer
Light pollution also wastes energy, disrupts bird and animal breeding cycles
Dear EarthTalk: What is “light pollution?” Is it really a factor in breast cancer?
—Gudrun Smythe, Madison, Wisconsin
The glow of city lights blotting out stars in the night sky has frustrated many a stargazer, but recent studies have shown that “light pollution”—defined as excess or obtrusive light at night—can actually have serious health effects. Researchers have found that exposure to bright nocturnal light can decrease the human body’s production of melatonin, a hormone secreted at night that regulates our sleep/wake cycles. And decreased melatonin production has in turn been linked to higher rates of breast cancer in women.
“Light at night is now clearly a risk factor for breast cancer,” says David Blask, a researcher at the Cooperstown, New York-based Mary Imogene Bassett Research Institute. “Breast tumors are awake during the day, and melatonin puts them to sleep at night.”
Light Pollution Leads to More Breast Cancer in Industrialized
Night Shift Workers Run Higher Risk of Breast Cancer from Light
How to Reduce Risks of Breast Cancer from Light Pollution
How Light Pollution Affects Birds and Animals
Light Pollution and Wasted Energy
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EarthTalk is a regular feature of E/The Environmental Magazine. Selected EarthTalk columns are reprinted on About Environmental Issues by permission of the editors of E.
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