Dim-Light Exposure At Night Could Make Breast Cancer Spread To Bones, New Study Suggests

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We often have a dim light in our bedrooms during the night to not plunge the room into complete darkness. While you are fighting your demons, it is not surprising that even the dim light in the room could inflict a plethora of consequences on your health altogether.

A new study (R) conducted by the researchers from the Tulane University School of Medicine and details published under the Endocrine Society stated that the exposure to the dim light during the night does have the potential to the spreading of the breast cancer to the bones, as shown in the pre-clinical study.

If the statistics from the National Cancer Institute does suggest that 150,000 women in the United States itself in the year of 2017 experienced their breast cancer cells metastasized or even spread outside the breast. It has been found that when the breast cancer does spread, it spreads around to the bones too which then has the capability of causing severe pain and fragile bones.

Muralidharan Anbalagan, Ph.D., assistant professor, Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans stated that this study is first of a kind which emphasizes on the impacts of the exposure of the dim light at night on the circadian rhythm of the cancer patient which then has the capacity of increasing the formation of the bone metastatic breast cancer.

He further exclaimed stating that this study is a breakthrough and it is important to be aware of the same, owing to the fact that majority of the breast cancer patients are likely to be exposed to the dim light during the night owing to several health conditions and even stress and insomnia, if the same are to be considered.

The study got its initial round of funding Louisiana Clinical and Translational Science Center (LACATS) in collaboration with Louisiana Cancer Research Consortium (LCRC) & Tulane Center for Circadian Biology. The results and conclusion from this study were presented on March 23, 2019 at ENDO which is the annual meeting of the Endocrine Society in New Orleans, La.

For the study, the researchers developed a mouse model of the bone metastatic breast cancer. They injected the mice with estrogen receptor-positive human breast cancer cells which did have a low affinity to grow into the bones into the tibia as well as shinbone of the female mice.

Much like humans, even these mice had a strong nighttime circadian melatonin signal much like how you would experience with humans. This specific strong nighttime circadian melatonin signal is what is believed to impose the anti-cancer actions and also helps promote sleep.

All of the mice were exposed to light consistently for 12 hours a day. In one separate group of 3 mice, it was in the dark consecutively for 12 hours straight which helped promote the production of endogenous melatonin. Another group of mice were exposed to 12 hours of light followed by 12 hours in the dim light at night. This was found to inhibit and hamper the nocturnal melatonin production.

The exposed dim light during the night was just 0.2 lux which is less than what you would experience with the night light or even the display light from the cell phone.

Upon conducting the x-rays in the said group of mice, it was found that the mice exposed to the dim light at night developed bigger tumours and even end up causing more bone damage in comparison to the mice which was kept in the dark/light condition.

Anbalagan finally concluded stating that the conducted research by them has identified the importance of the intact nocturnal circadian melatonin anti-cancer signal in suppressing the bone metastatic breast tumor growth.

While the exposure of the dim light at night on the metastasis of the breast cancer cells have found a better insight, it is important to have a better idea on this prospect to develop the treatment methods that would inflict scalable impacts on the health.


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