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A shorter life through blue light?
Prolonged exposure to blue light, such as from your smartphone and computer, can affect your life expectancy even if it doesn't shine directly in your eyes.
The latest study by Oregon State University found that so-called blue light appears to have a negative impact on our life expectancy. The results of the study were published in the English-language journal "Aging and Mechanisms of Disease".
Investigation carried out on flies
The current study referred to a common organism, Drosophila melanogaster, the common fruit fly. This species of fly serves as an important model organism because of the cellular and developmental mechanisms that it shares with other animals and humans.
Blue LED light accelerated aging
The researchers examined how flies responded to a 12-hour exposure to blue LED light daily. This light is similar to the predominant blue wavelength in devices such as cell phones and tablets. The team found that the light accelerated aging. Exposing the flies to daily cycles of twelve hours in the light and twelve hours in the dark reduced their life expectancy compared to flies that were kept in complete darkness or in light with the blue wavelengths filtered out. If the flies were exposed to blue light, this also affected their locomotion, and they also showed damage to their retinal cells and neurons in the brain, reports the research team.
Even flies without eyes were damaged by blue light
Some of the flies in the experiment were mutants that did not develop eyes. Even these eyeless flies showed brain damage and restricted movement, suggesting that the flies did not have to see the light to be damaged by him.
Light without a blue component slightly shortened life expectancy
The researchers were surprised to find that light accelerated the aging of flies. The team wondered what makes light so harmful. That is why they examined the spectrum of light. It could be clearly observed that light without a blue component slightly shortened the lifespan, but blue light greatly reduced the lifespan.
What role does light play in our bodies?
Natural light is crucial for the circadian rhythm of the body. However, there are indications that increased exposure to artificial light is a risk factor for sleep disorders and circadian disorders. Due to the increasing use of LED lighting and device displays, people are exposed to more and more light in the blue spectrum. However, LED lighting has not been used long enough to understand its long-term impact on overall human life expectancy.
Healthier light spectrum could improve health
"Human lifespans have increased dramatically in the last century because we can treat more and more diseases, while people spend more time under the influence of artificial light," study author Eileen Chow of Oregon State University said in a press release. Researchers are looking for ways to improve people's health while increasing their life expectancy. Designing a healthier light spectrum could be an option, not only for better sleep, but also for overall health.
How can we protect ourselves from the blue light?
In the meantime, there are a few ways to protect yourself from the negative effects of light. For example, glasses with yellow lenses filter out the blue light and thus protect the retina. In addition, smartphones, laptops and other devices can often be set to block blue emissions. (as)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
- Trevor R. Nash, Eileen S. Chow, Alexander D. Law, Samuel D. Fu, Elzbieta Fuszara et al .: Daily blue-light exposure shortens lifespan and causes brain neurodegeneration in Drosophila, in Aging and Mechanisms of Disease (query: 21.10 .2019), Aging and Mechanisms of Disease
- Daily exposure to blue light may accelerate aging, even if it doesn't reach your eyes, study suggests, Oregon State University (query: 21.10.2019), Oregon State University