It is no secret that research has linked too much screen time with obesity and various psychologcal problems. Recent research published in the Frontiers of Aging conducted at Oregon State University in fruit flies suggests that our basic cellular functions could be impacted by the blue light being emitted by our devices.

Dr. Jadwiga Giebultowicz, a professor at the Department of Integrative Biology at Oregon State University and senior author of this study said, “Excessive exposure to blue light from everyday devices, such as TVs, laptops, and phones, may have detrimental effects on a wide range of cells in our body, from skin and fat cells, to sensory neurons.” Adding that, “We are the first to show that the levels of specific metabolites – chemicals that are essential for cells to function correctly – are altered in fruit flies exposed to blue light.“

Our study suggests that avoidance of excessive blue light exposure may be a good anti-aging strategy,” advised Giebultowicz.

Oregon State University researchers previously demonstrated that fruit flies exposed to light turn on stress protective genes, and that fruit flies which were kept in constant darkness lived longer.

According to Giebultowicz, “To understand why high-energy blue light is responsible for accelerating aging in fruit flies, we compared the levels of metabolites in flies exposed to blue light for two weeks to those kept in complete darkness.”

Findings show that the blue light exposure caused significant differences in the levels of metabolites that were measured from the cells of fly heads. Specifically, it was found that levels of the metabolite succinate were increased but the levels of glutamate were lowered.

“Succinate is essential for producing the fuel for the function and growth of each cell. High levels of succinate after exposure to blue light can be compared to gas being in the pump but not getting into the car,” explained Giebultowicz. “Another troubling discovery was that molecules responsible for communication between neurons, such as glutamate, are at the lower level after blue light exposure.”

The changes seen in these findings recorded by the team suggest that the cells are operating at suboptimal levels which may cause premature death, and this may also explain their previous findings of blue light accelerating aging.

“LEDs have become the main illumination in display screens such as phones, desktops and TVs, as well as ambient lighting, so humans in advanced societies are exposed to blue light through LED lighting during most of their waking hours. The signaling chemicals in the cells of flies and humans are the same, so there is potential for negative effects of blue light on humans,“ explains Dr. Giebultowicz.

Dr. Giebultowicz concluded that “We used a fairly strong blue light on the flies – humans are exposed to less intense light, so cellular damage may be less dramatic. The results from this study suggests that future research involving human cells is needed to establish the extent to which human cells may show similar changes in metabolites involved in energy production in response to excessive exposure to blue light.”

As with anything you read on the internet, this article should not be construed as medical advice; please talk to your doctor or primary care provider before changing your wellness routine.

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