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Blue light exposure from phones, laptops harmful – Study

New research from Oregon State University (OSU) has shown that the damaging effects of daily, lifelong exposure to the blue light emanating from phones, computers and household fixtures worsen as a person ages, The results of the study are published in ‘Nature Partner Journals Ageing’. According to the researchers, the study involved Drosophila melanogaster, the common fruit fly, an important model organism because of the cellular and developmental mechanisms it shares with other animals and humans.

A researcher in the OSU College of Science who studies biological clocks, Jaga Giebultowicz led a collaboration that examined the survival rate of flies kept in darkness and then moved at progressively older ages to an environment of constant blue light from light-emitting diodes, or LEDs.

The darkness-to-light transitions occurred at the ages of two, 20, 40 and 60 days, and the study involved blue light’s effect on the mitochondria of the flies’ cells. Mitochondria act as a cell’s power plant, generating adenosine triphosphate, or ATP, a source of chemical energy. In earlier research, Giebultowicz showed that prolonged exposure to blue light affected flies’ longevity, regardless of whether it shined in their eyes. “The novel aspect of this new study is showing that chronic exposure to blue light can impair energy-producing pathways even in cells that are not specialised in sensing light,” Giebultowicz said.

“We determined that specific reactions in mitochondria were dramatically reduced by blue light, while other reactions were decreased by age independent of blue light. You can think of it as blue light exposure adding insult to injury in ageing flies.” Collaborating with Giebultowicz on the work, partially funded by the National Institutes of Health, were Yujuan Song, Jun Yang and David Hendrix of the OSU College of Science, Matthew Robinson of the College of Public Health and Human Sciences, and Alexander Law and Doris Kretzschmar of Oregon Health & Science University.

 

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