Breast cancer is increasingly prevalent in industrialized regions of the world, and exposure to light at night (LAN) has been proposed as a potential risk factor. Epidemiological observations have documented an increased breast cancer risk among female night-shift workers, and strong experimental evidence for this relationship has also been found in rodent models. Indirect support for the LAN hypothesis comes from studies involving blind women, sleep duration, bedroom light levels, and community nighttime light levels. This article reviews the literature, discusses possible mechanisms of action, and provides recommendations for occupational health nursing research, practice, and education. Research is needed to further explore the relationship between exposure to LAN and breast cancer risk and elucidate the mechanisms underlying this relationship before interventions can be designed for prevention and mitigation of breast cancer.
Copyright 2012, SLACK Incorporated.