New study links urban night lights to increased stroke risk

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Researchers warn of stroke risk from bright urban kighting.

NEW YORK, March 27: A new study suggests that the bright lights of urban environments may elevate the risk of stroke, shedding light on the potential health impacts of nighttime illumination.

Conducted by researchers from Zhejiang University School of Medicine in Hangzhou, China, the study found that bright artificial lights, commonly found in densely populated areas, could disrupt blood flow to the brain, increasing susceptibility to stroke-related conditions.

According to the findings, individuals with the highest exposure to outdoor nighttime light faced a 43% higher risk of diseases affecting the blood vessels of the brain. These conditions include clogged arteries obstructing blood supply and cerebral bleeding, which are leading causes of strokes.

Lead researcher Jian-Bing Wang emphasized the importance of reducing exposure to excessive artificial light, particularly for those residing in urban locales, to mitigate potential health risks. Wang highlighted the prevalence of light pollution globally, with approximately four-fifths of the world’s population living in environments affected by excessive artificial illumination.

The study, which analyzed data from over 28,300 adults residing in Ningbo, a major port and industrial city on China’s east coast, utilized satellite imagery to assess participants’ exposure to outdoor nighttime light pollution. Over a six-year follow-up period from 2015 to 2021, nearly 1,300 cases of brain blood vessel disease, including various stroke subtypes, were documented among the study cohort.

The researchers attributed the heightened stroke risk to potential disruptions in sleep patterns caused by continuous exposure to bright nighttime light. Artificial illumination, they suggested, could suppress the production of melatonin, a hormone crucial for regulating sleep.

In addition to light pollution, the study also investigated the impact of air pollution on stroke risk. Findings revealed that individuals exposed to high levels of particulate matter and nitrogen oxide emissions faced increased risks of stroke, underscoring the complex interplay between environmental factors and public health outcomes.

Wang emphasized the need for comprehensive policies and preventive strategies to address environmental factors such as light and air pollution, particularly in densely populated areas, to reduce the burden of stroke-related diseases worldwide.

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