Can the blue light from our devices speed up aging? A study says yes

The blue light It is characterized as a high-energy shortwave light and has attracted interest as a potential danger to our health. The blue light sources They include the sun, digital screens (TVs, computers, smartphones, and tablets), fluorescent and LED lighting, sources to which humans are increasingly exposed.

In fact there is growing evidence that blue light has the potential to damage human eyes and contribute to disease ranging from glaucoma to retinal degeneration and age-related maculopathy. Nevertheless, little is known about how it works exactly. Recent studies on the effects of blue light have focused on human retinal-related cells in vitro and suggest that can cause DNA damage and affect mitochondrial function.

To this must be added that the excessive use of screens It has been related to obesity and psychological problems: spending more than 1 hour a day of exposure is associated with less psychological well-being, less curiosity, less self-control, more distraction, more difficulty making friends and less emotional stability.

Now a new studypublished in ‘Frontiers in Aging’, has identified a new problem: our basic cellular functions could be affected by the blue light emitted by these devices.

“The excessive exposure to blue light from everyday devicessuch as televisions, laptops and phones, can have damaging effects on a wide range of cells in our body, from skin and fat cells to sensory neurons – says Jadwiga Giebultowicz, leader of the study, in a release –. We are the first to demonstrate that metabolite levels specific (chemicals that are essential for cells to function properly) are altered in fruit flies exposed to blue light. Our study suggests that avoiding excessive exposure to blue light may be a good anti-aging strategy.”

Giebultowicz’s team had previously shown that fruit flies exposed to light “turn on” protective genes against stressand that those that are kept in constant darkness live longer.

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

Exposure to blue light caused significant differences in the metabolite levels. In particular, they found that levels of the metabolite succinate increased, but levels of glutamate decreased.

“Succinate is essential to produce the fuel for the function and growth of every cell,” explains Giebultowicz. “The high levels of succinate after exposure to blue light can be compared to gasoline that is in the tank but does not reach to the engine.Another worrying finding was that the molecules responsible for communication between neuronslike glutamate, are found in the lowest level after exposure to blue light.

The changes recorded by the authors suggest that the cells are operating at a suboptimal leveland this may cause their premature death and further explain their earlier findings that blue light accelerates aging.

Despite these conclusions, some aspects of the fine print need to be clarified. First, These effects need to be studied in humans.. Second, the flies were exposed to doses of blue light for half their lives and constantly. In fact, the title of the study is ‘Chronic blue light leads to accelerated aging in Drosophila’. The life cycle of these insects is about 28 days and the flies in the study were exposed continuously between 10 and 14 days, which is equivalent, in humans, to about 35 continuous years of exposure.

Finally, the authors note in the study that “we use a pretty strong blue light on the flies: Humans are exposed to less intense light, so cell damage may be less dramatic. The results of this study suggest that future research with human cells is needed to establish the extent to which human cells can show similar changes in metabolites involved in energy production in response to excessive blue light exposure.”


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