KIDS who sleep with the light on could risk leukaemia, parents were warned yesterday.
Scientists have found the body needs darkness to produce a chemical that fights cancer.Even switching the light on for the toilet, staying up late, travelling across time zones, or the light from street lamps can stop enough melatonin being made, they say.
The body needs the chemical to prevent damage to DNA and its absence stops fatty acids reaching tumours and preventing them growing. Texas University Prof Russell Reiter, who led the research, said: 'Once you go to bed you should not even switch the light on for a minute.'Your brain immediately recognises the light as day and melatoninlevels drop.'
Rates of childhood leukaemia have doubled in the past 40 years.About 500 youngsters under 15 are diagnosed with the disease each year and around 100 die. A conference on childhood leukaemia in London yesterday heard that people were being subjected to more light at night than ever..This suppressed the production of melatonin which normally happens between 9pm and 8am.Past research has shown those most affected, like shift workers, had higher levels of breast cancer.
Blind people, who are not vulnerable to fluctuations of melatonin, have lower rates of cancer, it was found.Parents are advised to use dim red or yellow bulbs if their youngsters are scared of the dark.