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.
John Peterson | EurekAlert!
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