In a major study, the researchers claimed that blue light from gadgets would accelarate ageing process. It is a known fact that a lot of screen use is linked to obesity and psychological problems.
The new study in fruit flies showed that the basic cellular functions could be impacted by blue light emitted by the gadgets. Frontiers in Aging published the findings.
Senior author Dr Jadwiga Giebultowicz, noted that excessive exposure to blue light from everyday devices like TVs, phones and laptops may have detrimental effects on a wide range of cells in the body, from skin and fat cells, to sensory neurons.
Jadwiga Giebultowicz is professor at the Department of Integrative Biology at Oregon State University.
“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,“ the author said.
AGEING’ THE METHOD
The Oregon State University researchers have earlier shown that fruit flies exposed to light ‘turn on’ stress protective genes, and that those kept in constant darkness lived longer. Giebultowicz said that they compared the levels of metabolites in flies exposed to blue light for two weeks to those kept in complete darkness. The author said that blue light exposure caused significant differences in the levels of metabolites measured in the cells of fly heads. In particular, they found that the levels of the metabolite succinate were increased, but glutamate levels 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,” said Giebultowicz. “Another troubling discovery was that molecules responsible for communication between neurons, such as glutamate, are at the lower level after blue light exposure.”
BLUE LIGHT; ACCELERATING AGEING
The changes recorded by the researchers suggest that the cells are operating at suboptimal level, and this may cause their premature death, and further, explain their previous findings that blue light accelerates 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 the there is potential for negative effects of blue light on humans,“ explains Giebultowicz.
“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,“ concluded Giebultowicz.
Future work hopes to study the effects directly on human cells.