Researchers in Israel are reporting in the journal Chronobiology International that exposure to artificial lighting at night boosts breast cancer rates. They also found that exposure to the bluish light of compact fluorescents is especially dangerous. Using satellite images, the researchers compared breast cancer rates between better lighted neighborhoods and darker ones. As the Washington Post reports:
…the researchers found the breast cancer rate in localities with average night lighting to be 37 percent higher than in communities with the lowest amount of light; and they noted that the rate was higher by an additional 27 percent in areas with the highest amount of light.
Abraham Haim, a University of Haifa chronobiologist involved in the study, said the findings raise questions about the recent push to switch to energy-efficient fluorescent bulbs, which suppress melatonin production more than conventional incandescent bulbs. "This may be a disaster in another 20 years," Haim said, "and you won't be able to reverse what we did by mistake." He called for more research before policies favoring fluorescent lights are implemented, and for more emphasis on using less light at night.
Will this finding spark a battle between the toxin and global warming wings of environmentalism, or will they compromise and demand that we all just sit in the dark?