Exposure to artificial light at night is a ubiquitous environmental risk factor in modern societies.
In a study from Shanghai Jiaotong University, scientists found that outdoor LAN is associated with impaired blood glucose control and an increased risk of diabetes.
They found more than 9 million cases of the disease in Chinese adults can be attributed to this light exposure.
Earth’s 24-hour day-night cycle has resulted in most organisms, including mammals, having an inbuilt circadian (roughly 24-hour) timing system that is adapted to the natural sequence of light and dark periods.
Light pollution has been found to alter the circadian rhythm of insects, birds and other animals, resulting in premature death and loss of biodiversity.
In the study, researchers used data from the China Noncommunicable Disease Surveillance Study; a representative sample of the general population in China taken in 2010 across 162 sites across the country.
A total of 98,658 adults participated, undergoing interviews to collect demographic, medical, household income, lifestyle, education and family history information.
The mean age of participants was 42.7 years and approximately half were women.
Participants were assigned an average artificial outdoor LAN exposure level for that location. Exposure levels were ordered from lowest to highest and grouped into five quintiles (groups of 20% from highest to lowest).
The team found that the highest quintile of LAN exposure was associated with a relative increase of 28% in the risk of diabetes than in the lowest quintile areas.
Chronic exposure to residential outdoor LAN was positively associated with blood glucose levels, insulin resistance and diabetes prevalence, and inversely associated with beta cell function, even after adjusting for many important diabetes risk factors.
The researchers estimated that more than 9 million cases of diabetes in Chinese adults aged ≥18 years could be attributed to outdoor LAN exposure.
The team says these findings suggest that LAN is detrimental to health and demonstrate that it may be a potential novel risk factor for diabetes.
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The study was conducted by Dr. Yu Xu et al and published in Diabetologia.
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