Light, timing of biological rhythms, and chronodisruption in man

Naturwissenschaften. 2003 Nov;90(11):485-94. doi: 10.1007/s00114-003-0468-6. Epub 2003 Oct 14.


This paper reviews abundant evidence suggesting that causes and course of aging and cancers can be considered as being both light- and rhythm-related. We define chronodisruption as a relevant disturbance of orderly biological rhythms over days and seasons and years in man. Light is the primary external mediator and melatonin a primary internal intermediary of such disturbances, which can result in earlier deaths via premature aging and cancers. We conclude that experimental and epidemiological research can provide further insights into common denominators of these chronic processes and may offer novel and uniform targets for prevention.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aging
  • Animals
  • Biological Clocks / physiology*
  • Circadian Rhythm / physiology
  • Environment
  • Humans
  • Light*
  • Melatonin / physiology
  • Neoplasms / physiopathology
  • Periodicity*


  • Melatonin