Love your smartphone? Bad news: it could contribute to you looking older before your time. The culprit? The blue light emitted by its screen. And it’s not just smartphones that shower us in blue light – most modern gadgets do, from TVs to laptops. Scientists from the Department of Integrative Biology at Oregon State University have found that fruit flies that were exposed to excessive amounts of blue light saw their cells’ levels of metabolites change, resulting in the premature death of those cells. The aging process is the result of cells dying.
The bad news for people is that cell metabolites have the same functions in humans as they do in the cells of fruit flies. Worse: fruit flies don’t generally choose to expose themselves to blue light on a daily basis, but we humans do.
“LEDs have become the main illumination in display screens such as phones, desktops and TVs, as well as ambient lighting, so humans in advanced societies are exposed to blue light through LED lighting during most of their waking hours,” said Dr Jadwiga Giebultowicz, a senior author on the study.
However, there is a ray of hope: the researchers used “fairly” strong blue light on the flies, but humans are typically exposed to less intense levels of blue light, so the damage to cells may not be as pronounced. Still, Giebultowicz advises, “Our study suggests that avoidance of excessive blue light exposure may be a good anti-aging strategy.”
A previous study by the researchers found that blue light damaged eye cells and brain cells in flies. You can check out the new study’s original research article, which is published in the Frontiers in Aging here.