Findings from a recent study suggest that blue light, the same light emitted from smartphones and fluorescent light bulbs, causes brain damage and premature aging in fruit flies.
Why would research on fruit flies be important for human brains? Surprisingly, many of the genes of fruit flies are the same as the genes in humans, and studies on fruit flies often reveal information valuable for human health. Fruit flies’ life cycle is short so scientists can see aging patterns.
As published in the journal Aging and Mechanisms of Disease, researchers at Oregon State University conducted an experiment where they subjected adult fruit flies to blue light. The targeted group of adult flies was exposed to twelve hours of blue light, followed by twelve hours of darkness. They then compared these flies to the control group. Those flies were kept in total darkness for twenty-four hours or bathed in light where blue wavelengths were blocked.
Blue Light Fruit Fly Study Results
The results showed that the target group of flies had much shorter lifespans. Their life was nearly cut in half in comparison to the control group. The retinas and brains of the target group displayed signs of damage. They also had obviously impaired climbing abilities. The researchers concluded that blue light has the capacity of damaging the retina’s living tissue in addition to the brain in fruit flies.
To further support their conclusion, the same experiment was conducted, this time with genetically engineered flies. Those flies did not have any eyes. The results were similar: the target group of flies died early with evident signs of brain degeneration and climbing impairment. The researchers also noticed a trend from other studies on animals that show a similar negative effect on longevity from artificial light exposure.
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Study: Daily blue-light exposure shortens lifespan and causes brain neurodegeneration in Drosophila by Trevor R. Nash, Eileen S. Chow, Alexander D. Law, Samuel D. Fu, Elzbieta Fuszara, Aleksandra Bilska, Piotr Bebas, Doris Kretzschmar & Jadwiga M. Giebultowicz. Published: 17 October 2019. Aging and Mechanisms of Disease volume 5, Article number: 8 (2019)