The American Medical Association has issued an official statement warning against the health hazards posed by exposure to artificial light for hours at work or during sleep. The AMA, the largest association of medical physicians in the US, recently announced its new policy recognizing adverse health effects of exposure to excessive light at night, including disrupting sleep, exacerbating sleep disorders and causing unsafe driving conditions. The policy also supports the need for developing lighting technologies that minimize circadian (biological clock) disruption and encourages further research on the risks and benefits of occupational and environmental exposure to light at night. The AMA’s announcement comes on the heels of a recent study published in Chronobiology International by a Dr. Abraham Haim of the University of Haifa’s Israeli Center for Interdisciplinary Research on Chronobiology. Haim’s studies, published in peer-reviewed medical journals, include research that found that men who are exposed to artificial light at night have a higher risk of developing prostate cancer. Although the cause has not been proven conclusively, the study’s researchers suggested that repression of the production of melatonin hormone in the brain and weakening of the immune system because of light disruption at night of the biological clock.
Photo Credit: John Vlahakis