Link Between Cancer And Artificial Light From Laptops And Smartphones Warrants Investigating

Scrolling through Instagram on our phones or watching Netflix on our tablets at bedtime has become the norm.

But experts are warning that more research needs to be done to ensure these habits are not having long-term negative impacts on our health.

Researchers from the University of Connecticut have conducted a study which examines the links between our new-found reliance on artificial light and the rise of various illnesses and diseases around the world, including cancer.

"The importance of sleep has finally entered mainstream thinking and practice, however the importance of dark is still greatly under-appreciated."

In the study, published in the journal Philosophical Transactions B, the researchers point out that since the introduction of electronic light there has been "inadequate light during the day inside buildings" and "too much light at night for a true dark to be detected."

They raise concerns that this may have a negative impact on our natural body clock, while altering our hormone levels and the functioning of our metabolism.

Examining previous research, the study questions the extent to which these disruptions to natural human functioning can account for a rise in breast and prostate cancers, obesity, diabetes and depression around the world.

The study suggests that while more research on these links is completed, those concerned may wish to take preventative measures such as purchasing black-out blinds to remove any interruption to sleep from street lights.

It concludes: "It must be stressed that there is ample evidence for the disruptive effect of electric light on physiology in short-term experiments in humans. There is some epidemiologic evidence on the long-term impact on disease but this evidence is not yet adequate to render a verdict.

"It is an urgent issue given the increasing pervasiveness of electric lighting in our built environment that heretofore has been designed without any consideration of circadian health in mind."

Previous research has linked regular use of artificial light to depression and an increased risk of insomnia, while medical expert Paul Spector has said unnatural light is to blame for the world's obesity epidemic.

"The widespread adoption of electric lighting ended sunlight-entrained human circadian rhythms. Illuminated night blocks the natural transition to a fasting state, energy (calorie) acquisition and storage continue," he previously blogged on HuffPost Healthy Living.

"Even dim light at night has been shown to significantly decrease melatonin secretion in humans. This disconnection from nature's clock is now considered an important cause of our struggle with weight gain."