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 Another reason to exercise: Burning bone fat -- a key to better bone health
19.05.2017 | University of North Carolina Health Care

nachricht Disrupted fat breakdown in the brain makes mice dumb
19.05.2017 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn

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: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

Im Focus: World's thinnest hologram paves path to new 3-D world

Nano-hologram paves way for integration of 3-D holography into everyday electronics

An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...

Im Focus: Using graphene to create quantum bits

In the race to produce a quantum computer, a number of projects are seeking a way to create quantum bits -- or qubits -- that are stable, meaning they are not much affected by changes in their environment. This normally needs highly nonlinear non-dissipative elements capable of functioning at very low temperatures.

In pursuit of this goal, researchers at EPFL's Laboratory of Photonics and Quantum Measurements LPQM (STI/SB), have investigated a nonlinear graphene-based...

Im Focus: Bacteria harness the lotus effect to protect themselves

Biofilms: Researchers find the causes of water-repelling properties

Dental plaque and the viscous brown slime in drainpipes are two familiar examples of bacterial biofilms. Removing such bacterial depositions from surfaces is...

Im Focus: Hydrogen Bonds Directly Detected for the First Time

For the first time, scientists have succeeded in studying the strength of hydrogen bonds in a single molecule using an atomic force microscope. Researchers from the University of Basel’s Swiss Nanoscience Institute network have reported the results in the journal Science Advances.

Hydrogen is the most common element in the universe and is an integral part of almost all organic compounds. Molecules and sections of macromolecules are...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

Innovation 4.0: Shaping a humane fourth industrial revolution

17.05.2017 | Event News

Media accreditation opens for historic year at European Health Forum Gastein

16.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New approach to revolutionize the production of molecular hydrogen

22.05.2017 | Materials Sciences

Scientists enlist engineered protein to battle the MERS virus

22.05.2017 | Life Sciences

Experts explain origins of topographic relief on Earth, Mars and Titan

22.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>