The blue light emitted by smartphones and computers accelerates aging

published on 01.09.2022 at 06:00


(credits: Wikimedia Commons/Disclosure)

Due to the excessive use of electronics such as mobile phones and TV and computer screens, people are exposed to the blue light emitted by these devices practically all day long. Studies have already shown the connection of this type of radiation with obesity and psychological problems. Now, new research suggests that it may affect basic cellular functions. One of the direct effects is aging, according to an article published in the journal Frontiers in Agin.

“Excessive exposure to blue light from everyday devices can have harmful effects on a wide range of cells in our body, from skin and fat cells to sensory neurons,” Jadwiga Giebulowicz of the Ministry of Health said in a statement. Integrative Biology at Oregon State University in the United States and senior author of the study.

“We are the first to show that the levels of specific metabolites—chemicals essential for the proper functioning of cells—are altered in fruit flies exposed to blue light. Our study suggests that avoiding excessive exposure to blue light could be a good anti-aging strategy,” said Giebultowicz.

Previously, the same group of researchers showed that when exposed to blue light, wine flies, known as fruit flies, activate stress protection genes. Those who were kept in constant darkness lived longer.

Metabolites

To understand why high-energy blue light is responsible for accelerating aging in fruit flies, the researchers compared metabolite levels in fruit flies exposed to this type of radiation for two weeks with those kept in complete darkness. In the first case, there were significant differences in the substances measured in the brain cells.

Specifically, the researchers found that levels of the metabolite succinate increased, but those of glutamate decreased. “Succinate is necessary for the production of fuel for the functioning and growth of every cell. The high levels of succinate after exposure to blue light can be compared to the gas that is at the pump but does not enter the car,” Giebultowicz explained. “Another worrying finding is that molecules responsible for communication between neurons, such as glutamate, are at their lowest level after exposure to blue light,” he said.

The changes indicate that the cells are working at a suboptimal level, which could cause them to die prematurely, but also accelerate aging. Future work will study the effects directly in humans. According to ophthalmologist Nubia Vanessa, from the CBV-Hospital de Olhos and the Department of Health of the DF, it is possible that the effects are the same. “All metabolites changed by blue light in the study are common to both fly cells and humans. Therefore, it is possible that prolonged exposure to blue light may have similar, albeit more subtle, effects on skin, subcutaneous fat and other cells in humans,” he pointed out.

The doctor warned that excessive exposure to this type of radiation can affect the health of the eyes. “It can affect vision because there is a production of free radicals that change the metabolism of the eye, favoring aging. In addition, there can be age-related macular degeneration, cataracts and other changes in the cornea,” he said.

In addition to reducing the time spent using electronics, Nubia Vanessa advised the use of filters and recommended choosing a black background in equipment that reduces the effects of blue light. “Always try to be in a bright environment to reduce stress on the eyes and, if possible, don’t use the computer before going to bed,” added Maisa Kairalla, a geriatrician at the Federal University of São Paulo (Unifesp) and the Brazilian Society of Geriatrics and Gerontology.

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