Roundup: Blue Light's Link to Eye Disease; Cancer-Fighting Veggies; and e-Cigs Could Damage Lung Cells

Blue Light From Smartphones, Tablets Could Speed Up Blindness, Study Says

The so-called “blue light” that emanates from digital devices, like your smartphone, transforms vital molecules in the eye’s retina into “cell killers,” according to a new study from the University of Toledo. And that process leads to age-related macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness in the United States, researchers say.

The study found blue light triggers “toxic” reactions in retinal molecules that sense light and sends signals to the brain. The retinal molecules are used by photoreceptors in our eyes and that’s what allows people to see. The process is outlined in the study, which has been published in the journal Scientific Reports.

Other studies have suggested that, over time, exposure to the blue end of the light spectrum, such as the blue light from electronic devices, could cause potentially serious long-term damage to the eyes.

“We are being exposed to blue light continuously, and the eye’s cornea and lens cannot block or reflect it,” said Ajith Karunarathne, assistant professor at the University of Toledo’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, and a lead researcher in the new study. “It’s no secret that blue light harms our vision by damaging the eye’s retina. Our experiments explain how this happens, and we hope this leads to therapies that slow macular degeneration, such as a new kind of eye drop.”

Macular degeneration is an incurable eye disease that results in significant vision loss starting, on average, in a person’s 50s or 60s. The condition damages the macula, a part of the retina that aids in sending information through the optic nerve to the brain to create images. Once the macula deteriorates, dark or blurry vision may begin to occur.

Researchers who have studied blue light coming from TVs, smartphones and tablets advise people to wear sunglasses filtering UV and blue light, and avoid using their digital devices in the dark. In recent years, companies including Apple, Amazon and Google have introduced blue light filters to limit users’ exposure.

Blue light can also have a negative impact on sleeping habits, suppressing your body’s ability to create the hormone melatonin, according to the National Sleep Foundation.

“By learning more about the mechanisms of blindness in search of a method to intercept toxic reactions caused by the combination of retinal and blue light, we hope to find a way to protect the vision of children growing up in a high-tech world,” said Karunarathne.

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Eating Veggies Like Broccoli, Kale & Cauliflower Can Help Prevent Cancer-Linked Inflammation

A new study has reaffirmed the importance of vegetables in the diet, especially those from the group known as brassicas that include cabbage, broccoli and kale.

Eating brassicas, which also include Brussels sprouts and cauliflower, may protect against colon cancer, based on the findings of the new study which tracked the effects of compounds from these veggies in laboratory mice.

Researchers from the Francis Crick Institute in London, United Kingdom, found that keeping mice on a diet rich in a compound known as indole-3-carbinol (I3C) — which comes from such vegetables — prevented their intestines from becoming inflamed and developing colon cancer. The study’s findings was published this week in the journal Immunity. The human digestive system produces I3C after eating from this group of vegetables.

The research team found that the presence of I3C was able to prevent colon inflammation by activating a protein called aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR). This meant that the mice were less likely to contract colon cancer.

“Seeing the profound effect of diet on gut inflammation and colon cancer was very striking,” says Dr. Gitta Stockinger, group leader at the Francis Crick Institute and senior author. “We often think of colon cancer as a disease promoted by a Western diet rich in fat and poor in vegetable content, and our results suggest a mechanism behind this observation.”

After skin cancer, cancer of the colon or rectum is the third most diagnosed cancer in both women and men in the United States.

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E-cigarettes Could Damage Lung Cells That Fight Bacteria: Study

Inhaling e-cigarettes, or e-cigs, can damage vital immune cells in the lungs that protects the body from inflammation, a new study has found.

The researchers warn that their findings reaffirm vaping’s harmful effects. However, they caution their results came about from laboratory conditions and further research is needed to better understand the long-term health impact from vaping. The changes that took place — and disabled important immune cells in the lungs which boosted inflammation — took place only over 48 hours

The researchers devised a mechanical procedure to mimic vaping in a lab using lung tissue samples provided by eight non-smokers. They found vapors caused inflammation, and impaired the activity of “alveolar macrophages,” cells that remove potentially damaging dust particles, bacteria and allergens.

The study’s authors said some of the effects mirrored those seen in regular smokers and people with chronic lung disease.

“While further research is needed to fully understand the effects of e-cigarette exposure in humans … we caution against the widely held opinion that e-cigarettes are safe,” the study concludes.

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