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Eur J Cancer Prev. 2007 Aug;16(4):357-62.

Prevention of melatonin suppression by nocturnal lighting: relevance to cancer.

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1
Sleep Research Laboratory, University Health Network, University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Abstract

The decreased melatonin production in humans and animals caused by environmental lighting, especially short wavelength lighting (between 470 and 525 nm) has been shown to be associated with an increased risk of cancer. The purpose of this study was to investigate whether blocking light in this wavelength range under bright light may prevent the suppression of melatonin, which could help to prevent cancer. Optical filter lenses were designed, allowing selective exclusion of all wavelengths below 530 nm. Salivary melatonin levels were measured under dim light (<5 lux), bright light (800 lux) and filtered light (800 lux) at hourly intervals between 2000 and 0800 h in 11 healthy young male participants (mean age 23.5+/-1.5 years). The measurements were taken during three nonconsecutive nights over a 2-week period. The Dim Light Melatonin Onset test was used as a marker of circadian phase. Nine of the 11 participants demonstrated preserved melatonin levels in filtered light similar to their dim light secretion profile. With filtered light, the participants had a mean relative amount of melatonin of 91.2 (P>0.05 between dim light and experimental condition). Unfiltered bright light drastically suppressed melatonin production with a mean relative amount of melatonin of 25.4 (P<0.05 between dim light and experimental condition). Preventing melatonin deficiencies using lenses that block light of low wavelength from reaching the retina presents a cost-effective, practical solution to the problem of increased malignancy rates in shift workers.

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