Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Artificial light at night stimulates breast cancer growth in laboratory mice

21.12.2005


Results from a new study in laboratory mice show that nighttime exposure to artificial light stimulated the growth of human breast tumors by suppressing the levels of a key hormone called melatonin. The study also showed that extended periods of nighttime darkness greatly slowed the growth of these tumors.



The study results might explain why female night shift workers have a higher rate of breast cancer. It also offers a promising new explanation for the epidemic rise in breast cancer incidence in industrialized countries like the United States.

The National Cancer Institute and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, agencies of the federal National Institutes of Health, provided funding to researchers at the Bassett Research Institute of the Mary Imogene Bassett Hospital in Cooperstown, New York and The Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, Pa. The results are published in the December 1, 2005 issue of the scientific journal Cancer Research.


"This is the first experimental evidence that artificial light plays an integral role in the growth of human breast cancer," said NIEHS Director David A. Schwartz, M.D. "This finding will enable scientists to develop new strategies for evaluating the effects of light and other environmental factors on cancer growth."

"The risk of developing breast cancer is about five times higher in industrialized nations than it is in underdeveloped countries," said Les Reinlib, Ph.D., a program administrator with the NIEHS’ grants division. "These results suggest that the increasing nighttime use of electric lighting, both at home and in the workplace, may be a significant factor."

Previous research showed that artificial light suppresses the brain’s production of melatonin, a hormone that helps to regulate a person’s sleeping and waking cycles. The new study shows that melatonin also plays a key role in the development of cancerous tumors.

"We know that many tumors are largely dependent on a nutrient called linoleic acid, an essential fatty acid, in order to grow," said David Blask, M.D., Ph.D., a neuroendocrinologist with the Bassett Research Institute and lead author on the study. "Melatonin interferes with the tumor’s ability to use linoleic acid as a growth signal, which causes tumor metabolism and growth activity to shut down."

To test this hypothesis, the researchers injected human breast cancer cells into laboratory mice. Once these cells developed into cancerous tumors, the tumors were implanted into female rats where they could continue to grow and develop.

The researchers then took blood samples from 12 healthy, premenopausal volunteers. The samples were collected under three different conditions – during the daytime, during the nighttime following 2 hours of complete darkness, and during the nighttime following 90 minutes of exposure to bright fluorescent light. These blood samples were then pumped directly through the developing tumors.

"The melatonin-rich blood collected from subjects while in total darkness severely slowed the growth of the tumors. "These results are due to a direct effect of the melatonin on the cancer cells," said Blask. "The melatonin is clearly suppressing tumor development and growth."

In contrast, tests with the melatonin-depleted blood from light-exposed subjects stimulated tumor growth. "We observed rapid growth comparable to that seen with administration of daytime blood samples, when tumor activity is particularly high," Blask said.

According to the researchers, melatonin exerts a strong influence on the body’s circadian rhythm, an internal biological clock that regulates sleep-wake cycle, body temperature, endocrine functions, and a number of disease processes including heart attack, stroke and asthma. "Evidence is emerging that disruption of one’s circadian clock is associated with cancer in humans, and that interference with internal timekeeping can tip the balance in favor of tumor development," said Blask.

"The effects we are seeing are of greatest concern to people who routinely stay in a lighted environment during times when they would prefer to be sleeping," said Mark Rollag, Ph.D., a visiting research scientist at the University of Virginia and one of the study co-authors. "This is because melatonin concentrations are not elevated during a person’s normal waking hours."

"If the link between light exposure and cancer risk can be confirmed, it could have an immediate impact on the production and use of artificial lighting in this country," said Blask. "This might include lighting with a wavelength and intensity that does not disrupt melatonin levels and internal timekeeping."

"Day workers who spend their time indoors would benefit from lighting that better mimics sunlight," added Blask. "Companies that employ shift workers could introduce lighting that allows the workers to see without disrupting their circadian and melatonin rhythms."

John Peterson | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.niehs.nih.gov/

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Spanish scientists create a 3-D bioprinter to print human skin
24.01.2017 | Carlos III University of Madrid

nachricht Tracking movement of immune cells identifies key first steps in inflammatory arthritis
23.01.2017 | Massachusetts General Hospital

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: Scientists spin artificial silk from whey protein

X-ray study throws light on key process for production

A Swedish-German team of researchers has cleared up a key process for the artificial production of silk. With the help of the intense X-rays from DESY's...

Im Focus: Quantum optical sensor for the first time tested in space – with a laser system from Berlin

For the first time ever, a cloud of ultra-cold atoms has been successfully created in space on board of a sounding rocket. The MAIUS mission demonstrates that quantum optical sensors can be operated even in harsh environments like space – a prerequi-site for finding answers to the most challenging questions of fundamental physics and an important innovation driver for everyday applications.

According to Albert Einstein's Equivalence Principle, all bodies are accelerated at the same rate by the Earth's gravity, regardless of their properties. This...

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | 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

 
Latest News

Breaking the optical bandwidth record of stable pulsed lasers

24.01.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Choreographing the microRNA-target dance

24.01.2017 | Life Sciences

Spanish scientists create a 3-D bioprinter to print human skin

24.01.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>