Vastly different from our evolutionary beginnings of a pitch-black night, people nowadays bathe in light.
While previous studies showed how exposure to light during dark hours can alter or disrupt animals' hormones, immune response, and even weight
, a new study
published in Scientific Reports claims that deficits could actually be passed on to one's offspring.
They've exposed male and female Siberian hamsters, a naturally nocturnal animal (this is measure the effects of nocturnal light without affecting and disturbing sleep quality and cycle), to either a standard light day and dark night cycle or dim light during the night for nine week. Afterwards, they allowed the hamsters to mate. The hamsters' offspring were then all raised in standard light conditions.
Results showed that the offspring of parents exposed to a nocturnal light did indeed have a reduction in immune response and had changes in the genetic activity of the spleen: decreased hormone receptors for melatonin and glucocorticoids. “These data demonstrate that a seemingly innocuous stimulus – dim light exposure at night – is sufficient to induce transgenerational effects on physiology,” the authors noted.
They also found that both mothers and fathers had independently passed these deficits on to their offspring.“These weren’t problems that developed [just] in utero. They came from the sperm and the egg. It’s much more common to see epigenetic effects from the mothers, but we saw changes passed on from the fathers as well,” said lead author, Randy Nelson. He said that “people are beginning to accept that light pollution is serious pollution and it has health consequences that are pretty pronounced – an increase in cancers, depression, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and anxiety disorders.”
While this still needs to be replicated in humans, the message is clear: not managing one's use of today's technology especially using computers, televisions, and cell phones after dark, can have a negative impact on the body.
Health Effects From Light Exposure Can Be Passed on to Children