Sunday, September 28, 2008

Working at Night

Two dozen scientists from ten countries met last fall in Lyon, France to discuss the theory that night lights may cause cancer. They reported that six of eight studies on the subject show that shift work increases risk for breast cancer (Lancet, December 2007).

Melatonin is a potent hormone produced by our brain at night. It has strong anti-oxidant properties that help to prevent cells from becoming cancerous. However, if a person sees bright lights at night, the brain stops making melatonin, and these people may be at increased risk for several cancers. The panel concluded that bright lights at night are probably carcinogenic.

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