It’s no secret that research has linked screen time to obesity and various psychological issues. Recent published research in the Frontiers of Aging study conducted at Oregon State University on fruit flies suggests that our basic cellular functions could be affected by the blue light emitted by our devices.
Dr. Jadwiga Giebultowicz, a professor in the Department of Integrative Biology at Oregon State University and lead author of the study, said: “Excessive exposure to blue light from everyday devices, such as televisions, laptops and phones, can adversely affect a wide range of cells in our bodies, from skin and fat cells to sensory neurons. Adding that, “We are the first to show that levels of specific metabolites – chemicals essential for proper cell function – are altered in fruit flies exposed to blue light.”
“Our study suggests that avoiding excessive blue light exposure can be a good anti-aging strategy,” Giebultowicz advised.
Researchers at Oregon State University have previously shown that fruit flies exposed to light activate protective genes against stress and that fruit flies that were kept in constant darkness lived longer.
According to Giebultowicz, “To understand why high-energy blue light is responsible for accelerating the aging of fruit flies, we compared metabolite levels in flies exposed to blue light for two weeks with those maintained in the total darkness.”
The results show that exposure to blue light caused significant differences in metabolite levels that were measured from fly head cells. Specifically, it was found that levels of the succinate metabolite were increased but glutamate levels were decreased.
“Succinate is essential for producing the fuel needed for every cell to function and grow. Elevated levels of succinate after exposure to blue light can be compared to gas being in the pump but not entering the car,” Giebultowicz explained. “Another disturbing finding was that molecules responsible for communication between neurons, such as glutamate, are at lower levels after exposure to blue light.”
The changes observed in these findings recorded by the team suggest that cells are functioning at suboptimal levels that can lead to premature death, which may also explain their previous findings on blue light accelerating aging.
“LEDs have become the primary illumination for display screens such as telephones, desktops, and televisions, as well as ambient lighting, so humans in advanced societies are exposed to blue light through the 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,” says Dr. Giebultowicz.
Dr Giebultowicz concluded that “we used a fairly 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 involving human cells is needed to establish to what extent human cells may exhibit similar changes in metabolites involved in energy production in response to excessive blue light exposure.
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.