[ RadSafe ] " Expert downplays link between artificial light, cancer "
frantaj at aecl.ca
Fri Jan 20 09:00:36 CST 2006
Expert downplays link between artificial light, cancer
Last Updated Wed, 18 Jan 2006 19:50:34 EST
The possible link between the growth of breast cancer tumours and nighttime
exposure to light isn't a simple one, says a Canadian cancer expert.
Researchers from New York and Philadelphia recently found that artificial
light seemed to interfere with the body's ability to create melatonin, a
hormone they suspect may help slow down the growth of breast cancer tumours.
Nighttime exposure to artificial light suppressed melatonin levels in lab
However, Dr. Dhali Dhaliwal, an oncologist and president of CancerCare
Manitoba - says it's not that straightforward.
"It would be unwise for anyone to draw conclusions that now, we have a clear
case [that] melatonin can reduce your risk of breast cancer," he says. "We
know from the biology it isn't so simple."
When it comes to cancer, there isn't only one factor that contributes to the
growth in tumours, Dhaliwal says.
It's thought that artificial light tricks the body into thinking its
daytime, stopping production of melatonin at night.
Melanie Tooley, who was diagnosed with breast cancer, says findings from the
U.S. research team give women hope, although scientists don't yet know if
there is a safe level of exposure to artificial light.
"Now I'm going to probably follow some of their advice to get nine hours of
darkness at night, [but] get a night light for the washroom, turn my clock
Medical researchers continue to investigate the role of melatonin in cancer.
They are also looking for reasons why rates of breast and prostate cancer,
which can be fuelled by hormones, are higher in industrialized countries.
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