Blue light like that from smartphones linked to some cancers, study finds

Story highlights

  • People exposed to higher levels of blue light were at more risk of breast and prostate cancer
  • Those exposed to LEDs with less blue in them did not see an increased risk of cancer

(CNN)Exposure to the kind of blue light emitted by outdoor LEDs, smartphones and tablets may increase your risk of breast or prostate cancer, a new study suggests.

The study, published Monday in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, compared previous exposure to artificial lights at night between approximately 2,000 breast or prostate cancer patients and approximately 2,000 controls living in Barcelona and Madrid.
The researchers measured exposure to outdoor artificial light, such as streetlights, using images from the International Space Station and to indoor artificial light using self-reported questionnaires.
    The researchers found that those exposed to high levels of outdoor blue light at night had around a 1.5-fold higher risk of developing breast cancer and a twofold higher risk of developing prostate cancer, compared with those who were less exposed. Men exposed to high levels of indoor artificial light also had 2.8-fold higher risk of developing prostate cancer, according to the study.
    "The real breakthrough of this study is that, for the first time, we can see directly the color in higher resolution and relate it to individual cases," said Alejandro Sánchez de Miguel, a researcher at the Environment and Sustainability Institute at the University of Exeter and a lead author on the study.