LET THERE BE DARK­NESS

Sleep­ing in com­plete dark­ness at night is es­sen­tial dur­ing breast can­cer treat­ment

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Un­der­go­ing treat­ment for breast can­cer? Don't for­get to turn off lights

SLEEP­ING WITH the light switched on at night is very harm­ful for breast can­cer pa­tients un­der­go­ing treat­ment. Ex­po­sure to light stops the pro­duc­tion of mela­tonin, a hor­mone pro­duced in the body only dur­ing night­time. Mela­tonin is vi­tal to the suc­cess of tamox­ifen, a widely used breast can­cer drug. In ab­sence of mela­tonin, tu­mours be­come re­sis­tant to the drug. Even ex­tremely weak light, com­pa­ra­ble to that com­ing from be­neath the door, is enough to im­pact mela­tonin pro­duc­tion. Anal­y­sis of rats im­planted with hu­man breast can­cer cells showed that mela­tonin on its own de­lays tu­mour for­ma­tion and brings down their growth rate. The study could make ex­po­sure to light a new vari­able in can­cer re­search. It also has im­pli­ca­tions for peo­ple who work late in the night, or sit for long hours in front of tele­vi­sion or com­puter screen. Can­cer Re­search, July 15

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