Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Increase in childhood leukaemia may be part due to increased light at night

08.09.2004


International experts will (Wednesday 8 September) consider the evidence for a link between the rise in childhood leukaemia and increased light at night at an international scientific conference in London.

The incidence of childhood leukaemia increased dramatically in the twentieth century. The increase has mainly affected the under five age group, in whom the risk increased by more than 50 per cent during the second half of the century alone.

Although the causes of leukaemia in children are poorly understood, environmental factors are thought to play a major role in the rising incidence since changes in our genetic make up simply do not happen on this kind of timescale. If this is the case, then it may be possible to take preventative measures, but first we need to determine what these factors are.



This is the driving force behind the conference – Childhood leukaemia: incidence, causal mechanisms and prevention – which is being hosted by CHILDREN with LEUKAEMIA, Britain’s leading charity devoted to the conquest of the disease.

Whilst the link between leukaemia and light at night may, on the surface, seem surprising, it has a logical basis and there is considerable evidence pointing towards the association. Compared with 100 years ago we are exposed to considerable light at night (LAN) during the natural hours of darkness. LAN disrupts our natural circadian rhythm, suppressing the normal nocturnal production of the hormone melatonin.

As Russel Reiter, Professor of Cellular and Structural Biology at the University of Texas, explains, a reduction in melatonin has been linked to cancer initiation as well as cancer progression. "As an anti oxidant, in many studies melatonin has been shown to protect DNA from oxidative damage. Once damaged, DNA may mutate and carcinogenesis may occur."

A number of studies have shown that people in occupations that expose them to LAN (i.e. night workers) experience a higher risk of breast cancer and that blind people, who are not vulnerable to reduced melatonin levels through LAN, have a lower incidence of cancer.
Russell Foster, Professor of Visual Neuroscience at Imperial College, London, will be exploring the mechanisms by which light regulates the circadian system. He explains "Embedded within the genes of us, and almost all life on earth, are the instructions for a biological clock that marks the passage of approximately 24 hours. Until we turned our nights into days, and began to travel in aircraft across multiple time zones, we were largely unaware of these internal clocks.

These clocks drive or alter our sleep patterns, alertness, mood, physical strength, blood pressure and every other aspect of our physiology and behaviour."

Professor Foster has detected novel photoreceptors in the eye and he will be sharing the clues about light perception pathways that his work is revealing.

Professor Reiter will introduce the link between magnetic fields and childhood leukaemia, an association which is now thought to be related to the light at night effect since magnetic fields also appear to reduce melatonin levels.

Reiter will be reviewing a number of theoretical explanations for this effect. As he says "If, in fact, melatonin levels are altered by magnetic fields, a potential relationship between these fields and cancer, including leukaemia, would be possible."

Top international experts from Europe, America, Asia and Australia will converge on London to discuss this and a wealth of other research being presented over the five days of the conference. Many of the usual suspects will be covered – including radiation, viruses, parental smoking and air pollution. But other concepts that have so far received little attention will also be highlighted. These include, for example, diet in early life, medicines in pregnancy as well as the links with melatonin and light at night, outlined above.

It is hoped that out of the conference will be born an agenda for future research and CHILDREN with LEUKAEMIA will be launching a £1m fund to support research in priority areas.

Josie Golden | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.leukaemia.org

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Penn vet research identifies new target for taming Ebola
12.01.2017 | University of Pennsylvania

nachricht The strange double life of Dab2
10.01.2017 | University of Miami Miller School of Medicine

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

Im Focus: How to inflate a hardened concrete shell with a weight of 80 t

At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).

Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...

Im Focus: Bacterial Pac Man molecule snaps at sugar

Many pathogens use certain sugar compounds from their host to help conceal themselves against the immune system. Scientists at the University of Bonn have now, in cooperation with researchers at the University of York in the United Kingdom, analyzed the dynamics of a bacterial molecule that is involved in this process. They demonstrate that the protein grabs onto the sugar molecule with a Pac Man-like chewing motion and holds it until it can be used. Their results could help design therapeutics that could make the protein poorer at grabbing and holding and hence compromise the pathogen in the host. The study has now been published in “Biophysical Journal”.

The cells of the mouth, nose and intestinal mucosa produce large quantities of a chemical called sialic acid. Many bacteria possess a special transport system...

Im Focus: Newly proposed reference datasets improve weather satellite data quality

UMD, NOAA collaboration demonstrates suitability of in-orbit datasets for weather satellite calibration

"Traffic and weather, together on the hour!" blasts your local radio station, while your smartphone knows the weather halfway across the world. A network of...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

Nothing will happen without batteries making it happen!

05.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Water - as the underlying driver of the Earth’s carbon cycle

17.01.2017 | Earth Sciences

Satellite-based Laser Measurement Technology against Climate Change

17.01.2017 | Machine Engineering

Studying fundamental particles in materials

17.01.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>