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Light from laptops, TVs, electronics, and energy-efficient lightbulbs may harm health, from the Harvard Health Letter

May 01, 2012

Humans once spent their nights in relative darkness. No longer. When the sun sets, TVs, computers, mobile devices, and artificial lighting burn on. The May issue of the Harvard Health Letter reports that this aspect of modern life may be great for efficiency, but not for health. At night, light throws the body's biological clock—the circadian rhythm—out of whack. Sleep suffers. The combination of poor sleep and exposure to artificial light exposure may contribute to a number of health problems.

Studies have linked working the night shift and getting exposed to light at night to several types of cancer (including breast and prostate cancer), diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. It's not exactly clear why nighttime light exposure seems to be problematic. It could be because exposure to light at night curbs the secretion of melatonin, a hormone that influences circadian rhythms.

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