Much of the nation mourned the passing of John McCain, who had consulted with me about healthcare reform when he first ran for President during 1999 to 2000. Many experts are raising the possibility that heavy cell phone use could have caused his aggressive glioblastoma brain tumor.
It certainly gives me pause — especially since we already know these so-called “smart phones” cause other serious health problems. In fact, my friend and colleague Richard G. “Bugs” Stevens just co-authored an eye-opening report about the many significant health dangers associated with emissions from electronic devices like smart phones and tablets.
I’ve known Bugs for quite a long time. We first met in the 1970s, as Ph.D. graduate students under Nobel Laureate Dr. Baruch Blumberg (1925 – 2011) at the University of Pennsylvania. It’s where Bugs got his arthropodical (insect-centric) nickname and where I got my anthropological degree.
After we completed our Ph.D. program, Bugs kept on with Dr. Blumberg and began helping him investigate another public health danger…excess iron in the body.
The hidden public health crisis of excess body iron
In the mid-1980s, Dr. Blumberg and Bugs began to suspect that excess iron in the body could raise the risk of cancers of all types, in both men and women. Bugs was appealing to the National Cancer Institute (NCI) for access to a publicly funded research database in order to analyze the iron-cancer hypothesis.
As luck would have it, I happened to be working at the NCI at the time. And I remember asking my NCI superiors for access to the research data, internally, before they released it to the public.
But the NCI bureaucrats refused.
They said the idea that iron is linked to cancer was “not credible.” They were also concerned about the reaction from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), which pushes iron pills and iron fortification of the food supply.
Despite numerous bureaucratic road blocks and miles of red tape, Bugs persisted. And eventually, our groundbreaking research was published in the New England Journal of Medicine and the International Journal of Epidemiology. It clearly showed that too much iron in the body does indeed raise cancer risk.
Of course, we were promptly and publicly attacked by the CDC and others for being “irresponsible” by publishing the scientific facts. But it didn’t deter Bugs…
In fact, after we wrapped up our iron research, Bugs began to investigate another hidden danger…
Living in a haze of blue light
Bugs’ latest report focuses on the dangers of light pollution, which doesn’t get much consideration from environmentalists. Indeed, most consider it a “soft” concern compared to air, water, and even sound pollution.
In fact, my daughter just completed an excellent program for her Master of Science degree in Environmental Sciences. I followed her coursework with great interest, as her classes focused on many aspects of ecology.
But nowhere in her program was there a course on light pollution.
And that’s a real shame…
According to Bugs, light at night constitutes a massive assault on ecology and human health.
First, let’s look at the ecological impact.
For billions of years, there was a reliable cycle of sunlight during the day and darkness at night. The addition of artificial light disrupts that cycle, causing light pollution.
How does light pollution affect us? Let’s use the Milky Way as an example:
- 30 percent of people worldwide can’t even see the Milky Way
- In Europe, 60 percent can’t see the Milky Way
- In North America, an astonishing 80 percent can’t see the Milky Way
Plus, much of the artificial light we spew into the night is wasted. For example, about 20 percent of energy production worldwide goes toward powering artificial lighting. And at least 30 percent of that energy isn’t really needed or being used by anyone. (Just think about all of those illuminated streets, empty parking lots, businesses, homes, and office buildings.)
Following the fiasco of the ugly, “curly-cue,” compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs), many environmentalists now aggressively push “high-efficiency” LED bulbs to save energy.
But Bugs cites convincing analyses showing that these LED lights don’t save energy at all.
And now, let’s look at the impact of light exposure on human health…
Keeping us lit — day and night
As I reported last summer, exposure to the blue light emitted by LED bulbs and personal devices generates more reactive oxygen species (ROS), which — much like the ionizing radiation used in x-rays — damage cells and DNA.
Plus, according to many studies, this brighter, shorter-wave blue light also disrupts melatonin production and circadian rhythm (our internal body clock), which can lead to cancer, depression, obesity, and other problems.
Plus, research from the University of Toledo shows that the blue light from digital devices such as laptops and phone screens also triggers the creation of toxic molecules in the retina that can lead to dreaded macular degeneration and possibly irreversible blindness.
In response to all this disturbing evidence, Bugs recently co-authored a report with the American Medical Association (AMA) recommending that manufacturers significantly reduce the brightness and blue wave content of artificial lighting in their products.
There’s nothing smart about going blind
I advise you consciously try to limit your exposure to artificial light — and especially blue light — by following a few rules of thumb:
- Spend as much time as you can outside in Nature during the day. Exposure to natural, UV light during waking hours will help counter the effects of exposure to blue light. I recommend at least 15 to 20 minutes a day (without sunscreen).
- Replace all LED bulbs in your house with incandescent bulbs if you can.
- Limit lighting in your bedroom at night — including alarm clock lights.
- Use blackout shades on your bedroom windows to block out any artificial outdoor light.
- Turn off devices and TVs in your home at least two hours before bed to avoid exposure to blue light.
- Use dimmers on incandescent lighting at night. Or better yet, light a candle.
- Don’t browse or read from electronic devices in the dark.
- Opt for a flip phone or land line instead of a “smart phone.” You’ll still be able to make calls, but with none of the harmful light.
- When outdoors, wear sunglasses that filter both blue light and ultraviolet light.
- Take dietary supplements with carotenoids such as lutein, lycopene, and zeaxanthin to support your vision.
- Take 10,000 IU of vitamin D (the ideal nutrient for optimal health), which now comes in a liquid formula with the potent, vision-boosting marine carotenoid, astaxanthin. (You can read more about the combined benefits of these nutrients on my website, www.DrMicozzi.com.)
I revealed all the natural approaches to protecting your eyesight in the lead article of my May 2018 issues of my Insiders’ Cures monthly newsletter (“Forget those eyeglasses”). To revisit my recommendations — as well as all of my newsletter archives — simply log on to my website with your username and password.
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“The marvel of LED lighting is now a global blight to health,” Aeon (www.aeon.co) 8/3/2018