Disruptions to a person's natural body clock, such as being exposed to artificial light or staying up for long periods at night, increase the risk of breast cancer, according to a study by the American National Cancer Institute and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.
The researchers used mice that had been implanted with human breast cancer cells, and injected blood samples from women into the mice. The blood samples were taken at three different times: during the day, early morning, and at night after exposure to artificial light.
While the blood taken at night slowed tumor growth by 80 percent, blood taken after exposure to artificial light increased cancer growth.
The findings represent the first proof that light is a risk factor for cancer. It is thought to act by inhibiting levels of the hormone melatonin, which is secreted by the pineal gland mostly at night and is an important variable in regulating a person's sleeping and waking cycles.
Michael Jordan is one of my sports heroes. He was clearly one of the best basketball players this world has ever seen. He won six world championships while with the Chicago Bulls and that could have been eight if he hadn't prematurely retired.
However, the real key to winning those championships was his coach Phil Jackson. He drilled the team on fundamental basics so they cooperated cohesively as an effective team. They were outstanding at the basics.
If you are going to be successful in your efforts to win a high-quality disease-free life you will simply have to master the basics very well. And folks, it does not get much more basic than sleep and your exposure to sunlight.
One of the ways your body translates light exposure is through the hormone melatonin, which is made from the amino acid tryptophan. It is one of the most powerful antioxidants known to man and easily crosses cell membranes and your blood-brain barrier. It also plays a very powerful role in the prevention of many cancers, including breast and prostate cancers.
Many people who have a superficial understanding of natural medicine will run out to the health food store and start taking melatonin to obtain many of its beneficial properties.
While melatonin appears to be safe even in very large quantities, there is a strong likelihood that if you take it through artificial means like swallowing a pill, you will not obtain the same benefits as if your body makes it naturally.
So what does this have to do with this study?
Well melatonin is also called the "dark" hormone and is only made after your body has been exposed to very bright light in the day and then relatively complete darkness at night.
As this study clearly demonstrates, even exposure to small amounts of light during the night, like that from a nightlight, is enough to suppress your body's production of this powerful hormone.
This is an amazingly simple and easy lifestyle change to implement. All you need to do is make a commitment to never turn on the light while you sleep or if you happen to wake up to use the toilet. Even the smallest bit of light will stop melatonin production.
Most of you reading this live in urban areas so if there are street lights shining through your bedroom windows you need to completely block that light with blackout drapes or shades or your body will simply not produce enough melatonin to lower your risk of cancer.
It has only been about 100 years since we have had the technology to easily create artificial daylight. Your body was never designed to be regularly exposed to light at night and if you violate this design you run the risk of causing a physiological disturbance that will lead to your premature death.
So let's stay smart out there and sleep in the dark. Teach your kids this valuable technique and never to violate the rule and you will go a long way toward helping them prevent future cancers.
If you want to read a fascinating book on this topic I would highly recommend Light's Out as it goes into the entire topic in great depth.