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 Study tracks inner workings of the brain with new biosensor
16.08.2018 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn

nachricht Foods of the future
15.08.2018 | Georg-August-Universität Göttingen

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: Color effects from transparent 3D-printed nanostructures

New design tool automatically creates nanostructure 3D-print templates for user-given colors
Scientists present work at prestigious SIGGRAPH conference

Most of the objects we see are colored by pigments, but using pigments has disadvantages: such colors can fade, industrial pigments are often toxic, and...

Im Focus: Unraveling the nature of 'whistlers' from space in the lab

A new study sheds light on how ultralow frequency radio waves and plasmas interact

Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...

Im Focus: New interactive machine learning tool makes car designs more aerodynamic

Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.

When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...

Im Focus: Robots as 'pump attendants': TU Graz develops robot-controlled rapid charging system for e-vehicles

Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.

Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....

Im Focus: The “TRiC” to folding actin

Proteins must be folded correctly to fulfill their molecular functions in cells. Molecular assistants called chaperones help proteins exploit their inbuilt folding potential and reach the correct three-dimensional structure. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB) have demonstrated that actin, the most abundant protein in higher developed cells, does not have the inbuilt potential to fold and instead requires special assistance to fold into its active state. The chaperone TRiC uses a previously undescribed mechanism to perform actin folding. The study was recently published in the journal Cell.

Actin is the most abundant protein in highly developed cells and has diverse functions in processes like cell stabilization, cell division and muscle...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

LaserForum 2018 deals with 3D production of components

17.08.2018 | Event News

Within reach of the Universe

08.08.2018 | Event News

A journey through the history of microscopy – new exhibition opens at the MDC

27.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Smallest transistor worldwide switches current with a single atom in solid electrolyte

17.08.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Robots as Tools and Partners in Rehabilitation

17.08.2018 | Information Technology

Climate Impact Research in Hannover: Small Plants against Large Waves

17.08.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>