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A Case of the Blues: Is Screen Time Linked to Decreased Longevity?

We’ve all been cautioned to spend less time around light-emitting screens to benefit our eye health—but what if minimized screen time also meant maximizing our lifespan? New research from Oregon State University suggests chronic exposure to blue light wavelengths may negatively impact longevity.

The study--which measured the lifespans, locomotor function, photoreceptor count and brain neurodegeneration in fruit flies exposed to blue light--found that prolonged exposure to blue light strongly induced the expression of stress-responsive genes and decreased fly lifespans by up to 30%. In addition to this, it caused significant increases in photoreceptor damage and brain neurodegeneration, and decreased flies’ abilities to climb up vial walls (a measure of locomotor function). The trend appeared to be most pronounced in older flies, suggesting that the cumulative effect of prolonged, repetitive exposure to blue light is more dangerous than occasional and infrequent exposure.

While the study only analyzes blue light toxicity in fruit flies, many of the genes, behaviours or physiological processes assessed have human analogues—so until further data is published in regards to the effects of blue light on humans, I know I’ll be cutting down my Netflix use!

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