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Dangers Of Nighttime Light Exposure: Offspring Could Be At Receiving End [VIDEO]

Update Date: Apr 03, 2017 07:01 AM EDT

A study with hamsters on the dangers of nighttime light exposure might serve as a warning to humans as well. The creatures passed the harmful effects of an unnatural light exposure at night onto their offspring.

Researchers at the Ohio State University examined the repercussions of disruptions to the circadian rhythm, also called "internal body clocks," in naturally nocturnal Siberian hamsters and how the offspring might be affected via changes in genetic messaging.

Male and female adult hamsters were sorted into two: a group received the standard day and night cycle exposure and the others were exposed to dim light at night for the duration of nine weeks. Then they were further divided into four clusters and allowed to mate such that there were offspring from both parents previously exposed to dim light at night, both parents exposed to light at night or both parents receiving the standard light cycle.

The dangers of nighttime light exposure were evident in the offspring that were born with a poor immune system and faulty endocrine activity even though their parents were reared in the natural daylight/dark night cycle after the exposure to different lighting conditions. The mothers, as well as the fathers, passed along the modifications in genetic instructions to the offspring through the sperm and the egg.

In this day and age when nighttime exposure to light from electronic devices such as phones and TVs is prevalent, the researchers warn that the findings should urge people to rethink light pollution.

Findings from previous research have pointed out the health risks caused by light exposure at night to humans. Some cancers, heart diseases, diabetes are associated with this type of pollution, along with mental health issues such as depression and anxiety disorders.

What should give more reasons for worry is that, in the study with hamsters, it was not just the individuals themselves who were affected but also their offspring, the EurekAlert reported.

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