Is Blue Light Bad For Your Health?

June 19, 2017 — Peek into the typical American household after dinner and you’ll find the occupants bathed in a faint bluish glow. As parents fire off late emails on their laptops or lie in bed with eyes fixed on e-readers, kids update their Snapchat accounts or squeeze in one last game on their phones. Even if the gadgets are off, new eco-friendly street lamps, TVs, and household bulbs shine into the night, emitting a brighter, shorter-wavelength (more bluish), and more potent light than older incandescent bulbs did.

All that concerns Charles Czeisler, PhD, MD, chief of the Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

“The more research we do, the more evidence we have that excess artificial light at night can have a profound, deleterious effect on many aspects of human health,” says Czeisler, who is also director of sleep medicine at Harvard Medical School. “It is a growing public health concern.”

Czeisler is among a growing number of physicians, researchers, and health policy makers sounding the alarm that dark nights — like a healthy diet, regular exercise, and good sleep habits — are a key, endangered ingredient for long-term health.

Last year, the U.S. National Toxicology Program convened a 2-day workshop to explore mounting research linking exposure to artificial light at night not just to sleep problems, but also to weight gain, depression, cancer, and heart disease. In October, NASA went so far as to change all the lights on the International Space Station to ones that, as night falls, dim and change to longer-wavelength light, which has been shown to have less impact on human physiology than “blue light.”

Last June, the American Medical Association chimed in. It issued a statement showing concerns that the new ultra-bright light-emitting diode (LED) lamps many cities are now using in their streetlights could “contribute to the risk of chronic disease.”

Much of the research so far has been done on animals or comes from large population studies, which show patterns but don’t confirm cause and effect. But many health experts say the results are troublesome enough to warrant action now.

“As opposed to the many other kinds of harmful environmental pollutants out there, we are rapidly figuring out exactly what to do about this one, and it is really not that hard,” says Richard Stevens, PhD, a University of Connecticut cancer epidemiologist and light-at-night researcher. Just dim the lights at night and tone down that blue, he says.

The Power of Light

Light is by far the most important synchronizer of human circadian rhythms, or body clocks, Czeisler says. Specialized cells in the retina are finely tuned to respond to the short-wavelength light that comes from a cloudless blue sky. As light rays hit those cells, they tell the brain to stop pumping out drowsiness-inducing melatonin and start making hormones like cortisol and ghrelin that wake us up and make us hungry.

At dusk, in an electricity-free world, the opposite happens. As light fades, the body begins to transition to “nighttime physiology,” in which melatonin levels rise, body temperature drops, sleepiness grows, and hunger goes away. The time spent in this restful state, even if we are not actually sleeping, is restorative, Stevens says. Trouble is, in the modern world, we are bathed by lights that have the same potent wavelength that wakes up to, so our transition to nighttime physiology has been delayed by hours.

As Stevens puts it, we are “darkness deprived.”

The best-documented consequence, by far, of excess evening light exposure is short-term sleep disruption. In one study, people in a sleep lab who read from an e-reader at night saw their nighttime melatonin levels drop by 55% after 5 days, took longer to fall asleep, had less restorative rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, and felt more groggy the next day than those reading a paper book.

Animal studies at Ohio State University show that even exposure to relatively dim light — about the brightness of a child’s nightlight 3 feet from the eyes — over 8 weeks has a measurable impact on the brain. It raises inflammation and lowers levels of a hormone that’s key for promoting new brain cell growth. It also causes transmitters between neurons to whither.

The animals also showed “depressive like symptoms” and had memory problems, says study author Randy Nelson, chairman of the department of neuroscience at Ohio State University. While studies looking at the way light at night affects the human brain are only in their infancy, population studies of emergency room workers and oilfield workers chronically exposed to bright light at night show similar thinking and mood impairments, even if those workers are getting enough sleep, Nelson says. “This is not just a sleep problem. This is a problem of disruption of the entire circadian clock, and sleep is just one hand of that clock.”

Research is young, but some studies suggest that chronic exposure to excess light at night may also fuel cancer, in part by lowering the levels of melatonin — a known anti-cancer agent — circulating in the blood. Female night shift workers have a 50% to 70% greater chance of developing breast cancer during their lifetime, says David Blask, MD, associate director of the Tulane University Center for Circadian Biology.

One recent study of 75,000 nurses, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, found that those who worked the night shift for more than 5 years were 11% more likely to die early. Some European governments, with health risks in mind, now pay women night shift workers hazard pay.

“In a sense, with all our gadgets, we are all night shift workers to a degree now,” says Blask.

Less Light at Night, More in the Day

Mariana Figueiro, PhD, light and health program director at the Lighting Research Center in Troy, NY, stresses that in addition to minimizing bright blue-hued light — especially from gadgets held close to the eyes — at night, we should try to maximize the amount of bright light we get during the day.

“It not only makes you more awake and alert by day; research suggests it may also make you less sensitive to the negative health consequences of light at night,” she says.

Stevens says that beyond the 7 to 8 hours of sleep you try to get each night, you should make an effort to get 3 more hours of relative darkness. You don’t need to live by candlelight after dinner, but it’s a good idea to dim the lights and steer clear of bright blue screens. Replace the lights in your bedroom and bathroom with dimmer, longer-wavelength lights, consider using blackout shades if streetlights shine into your window, and invest in an eye mask for when it’s time to go to sleep.

At a minimum, you’ll wake up feeling more refreshed. Best-case scenario: You’ll live longer.

Cultivate a Healthy Body Clock

Get plenty of natural light by day: Take a walk outside in the morning. At the office, put your desk near a window. Invest in a bright light — one that delivers 1,000 lux (a measure of light intensity) or more of blue-hued light at eye level — to put on your desk at work. Studies show that most office environments are too dim to stimulate the positive, alerting effects of light by day.

One 2014 study by Northwestern University researchers found that people who got most of their bright light exposure before noon were about 1.4 pounds leaner on average than those exposed to most bright light in the evening.

Start powering down at dusk: Use programs like f.lux and other apps that automatically shift screens on phones and laptops to more orange-red longer-wavelength lights at night. Several lighting companies, including GE, are also rolling out household bulbs that change wavelengths as the day goes on.

Go camping for the weekend: A recent study by University of Colorado-Boulder researchers found that as little as 48 hours spent in the woods, with no artificial light at night and as much as 13 times more natural light by day, prompted campers to shift into nighttime physiology (signaled by a rise in melatonin) 1.4 hours earlier. They also fell asleep earlier than others who didn’t go camping and were less groggy Monday morning.

Sources

Charles Czeisler, PhD, MD, chief, Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston.

Randy Nelson, PhD, chairman, department of neuroscience, Ohio State University.

National Toxicology Program workshop: “Shift Work at Night, Artificial Light at Night, and Circadian Disruption.”

NASA website: “Testing Solid State Lighting Countermeasures to Improve Circadian Adaptation, Sleep, and Performance During High Fidelity Analog and Flight Studies for the International Space Station (Lighting Effects).”

American Medical Association. “Report of the Council on Science and Public Health: Human and Environmental Effects of Light Emitting Diode Community Lighting.”

Richard Stevens, PhD, professor, University of Connecticut School of Medicine.

Chang, A.M. PNAS, November 2014.

Figueiro M.G. Lighting Research and Technology, May 5, 2015.

Cheung, I. PLOSOne, May 2016.

Reid, K. PLOS One, April 2014.

Rybnikova, N.A. International Journal of Obesity, January 2016.

Nelson. Molecular Psychiatry. August 2014.

Maltese, F. Intensive Care Medicine, March 2016.

David Blask, MD, associate director, Tulane University Center for Circadian Biology.

Schernhammer, E. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, March 2015.

Mariana Figueiro, PhD, light and health program director, Lighting Research Center, Troy, NY.

Phyllis Zee, MD, PhD, chief of sleep medicine, department of neurology, Northwestern University.

Wright, K. Current Biology, February 2017.

Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Bank of America survey.

National Sleep Foundation.

University of Haifa.

© 2017 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

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Brain Scans May Shed Light on Bipolar Disorder-Suicide Risk

TUESDAY, Jan. 31, 2017 — Among teens and young adults with bipolar disorder, researchers have linked brain differences to an increased suicide risk.

About half of people with bipolar disorder — marked by extreme mood swings — attempt suicide and as many as one in five dies by suicide, the study authors said.

For the new study, teens and young adults with bipolar disorder underwent brain scans. Compared with those who had not attempted suicide, those who had attempted suicide had slightly less volume and activity in areas of the brain that regulate emotion and impulses, and in the white matter that connects those areas.

“The findings suggest that the frontal cortex is not working as well as it should to regulate the circuitry,” said study senior author Dr. Hilary Blumberg.

“That can lead to more extreme emotional pain, difficulties in generating alternate solutions to suicide and greater likelihood of acting on suicidal impulses,” she said.

Blumberg is a professor of psychiatric neuroscience, psychiatry, radiology and biomedical imaging at Yale University in New Haven, Conn.

“Suicide is a leading cause of death of adolescents and young adults, and we can’t move on this issue fast enough,” she said in a university news release. “The identification of brain circuits involved in risk for suicide can lead to new ways to identify who is most at risk and, hopefully, prevent suicides.”

The study was published Jan. 31 in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Mental Health has more on bipolar disorder.

Posted: January 2017

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Hawaiian Dispensaries Given Green Light By Department of Health

Medical marijuana cultivators in Hawaii have been given the proverbial “green light” to start cultivating their first crop of state-sanctioned medicinal cannabis and could begin germinating their first crop of seeds — or planting their clones — as early as next week. On your mark, get set, grow! According to Hawaii News Now, the Hawaii State […]
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Study Sheds Light on Safety of Driving With Epilepsy

SUNDAY, Dec. 4, 2016 — People with epilepsy who experienced longer seizures during a simulated driving test may face an increased risk for crashes while on the road, a new study suggests.

About 75 percent of people with epilepsy use medication to control their seizures and are able to drive. The remainder of patients typically keep a journal of seizures, noting how long they last, and doctors use that information to determine whether patients can drive safely, the study authors explained.

The new study included 16 people with epilepsy who used a driving simulator for between one to 10 hours, most for an average of three to four hours. In total, the patients had 20 seizures, seven of which resulted in “crashes.”

The longer the seizure, the greater the chance of a “crash.” Seizures lasted an average of 75 seconds among patients who crashed and 30 seconds among those who didn’t crash.

The study was to be presented Sunday at the annual meeting of the American Epilepsy Society, in Houston.

“Our goal is to identify if certain types of seizures — coming from a specific part of the brain or causing a particular brain wave pattern — are more likely to lead to a crash. That information could then be used by doctors to objectively determine who can safely drive and who should not,” said study author Dr. Hal Blumenfeld, director of the Yale Clinical Neuroscience Imaging Center, in New Haven, Conn.

Blumenthal, who is also a professor of neurology, neuroscience and neurosurgery at Yale, added that it isn’t clear why people who have longer seizures are more likely to crash.

“It’s going to take a lot more data to come up with a reliable way of predicting which people with epilepsy should drive and which should not,” Blumenfeld said in a news release from the epilepsy society.

“We want to unearth more detail, to learn if there are people with epilepsy who are driving who shouldn’t be, as well those who aren’t driving who can safely drive,” he said.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke has more on epilepsy.

Posted: December 2016

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Does Light Daily Drinking Really Help the Heart?

By Amy Norton

HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Nov. 29, 2016 (HealthDay News) — Many studies have hinted that alcohol, in moderation, can do a heart good. But new research suggests that moderate drinkers are no more likely than teetotalers to have clear arteries.

The scientists looked at almost 2,000 patients who underwent CT angiography — an imaging test that detects “plaques” in heart arteries. Overall, there was no association between people’s drinking habits and their odds of showing clogged vessels.

The findings stand in contrast to past studies that have linked moderate drinking to a lower risk of heart disease — where plaques build up in the heart arteries and may eventually trigger a heart attack.

Researchers said an advantage of the new study is that it used objective measurements.

“No prior studies have assessed the relationship between alcohol consumption and the presence of coronary heart disease as depicted by coronary CT angiography,” said lead researcher Dr. Julia Karady. She’s with the Heart and Vascular Center at Semmelweis University in Budapest, Hungary.

“We could not find any relation between the presence of coronary artery disease and alcohol consumption,” Karady said. “Therefore, we cannot confirm a protective [effect] of light alcohol consumption.”

At the same time, she added, there was no evidence that heavier drinking raised the risk of clogged arteries.

However, groups like the American Heart Association (AHA) warn against excessive drinking, because it can raise blood pressure and contribute to heart failure and other cardiovascular problems.

Dozens of studies have found that moderate drinkers have a lower heart disease risk than non-drinkers do — even when other health and lifestyle factors are taken into account.

In general, “moderate” is defined as no more than one glass of alcohol a day for women, and no more than two a day for men.

But those studies do not prove that alcohol, itself, protects the heart. And the AHA stresses that people should not start drinking in the hopes of gaining any health benefit — in large part because alcohol also carries risks.

Dietary guidelines from the U.S. federal government say the same thing.

Continued

Dr. Kenneth Mukamal studies lifestyle factors, including drinking habits, and the risk of heart disease. His own research has found that moderate drinkers typically have a lower risk of heart disease than non-drinkers do.

According to Mukamal, the new study is too “limited” to draw any conclusions.

For one, the study patients were all sent for CT angiography because their doctors thought they might have heart disease, said Mukamal, an associate professor of medicine at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.

“They all had a similar suspicion for heart disease,” he said. “So that tends to minimize the ability of any behavioral factor to influence the amount of coronary disease.”

Plus, Mukamal said, it’s not clear whether the study fully accounted for people’s smoking habits. That’s important, he noted, because smoking and drinking go hand-in-hand for some people.

The new findings were based on almost 2,000 patients referred for CT angiography. Almost 40 percent said they regularly drank alcohol — typically having about seven drinks a week.

Patients were considered light-to-moderate drinkers if they had no more than 14 “units” of alcohol in a week. A unit translates to about 7 ounces of beer, just over 3 ounces of wine, or 1.35 ounces of liquor.

Overall, the study found, there was no connection between people’s drinking habits and their chances of having artery-clogging plaques.

And it made no difference whether wine, beer or liquor was the alcohol of choice. None appeared protective at moderate levels, Karady said.

Karady was scheduled to present the findings Tuesday at the Radiological Society of North America annual meeting, in Chicago. Research presented at meetings is considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

The researchers are planning a larger study to help confirm the new findings.

Regardless of the true relationship between moderate drinking and heart disease, the advice from experts remains the same.

If you already drink, the AHA says, do so only in moderation.

WebMD News from HealthDay

Sources

SOURCES: Julia Karady, M.D., Ph.D. fellow, Heart and Vascular Center, Semmelweis University, Budapest, Hungary; Kenneth Mukamal, M.D., M.P.H., associate professor, medicine, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston; Nov. 29, 2016, presentation, Radiological Society of North America annual meeting, Chicago

Copyright © 2013-2016 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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Research Sheds Light on Why People Who Lose Weight Gain It Back

(Oct. 14, 2016) — New research is shedding light on a question that has long confounded dieters and obesity researchers alike: Why do so many people regain weight after they’ve worked so hard to lose it?

The answer, according to a new study, is appetite. People who successfully lose weight get really hungry — more than anyone had ever expected that they might. The body prompts us to eat about 100 calories more than usual for every 2 pounds or so of weight lost, researchers found.

“That’s the very first time that number has been quantified. We never knew how big that number was before the study,” says researcher Kevin Hall, PhD, who studies how the body responds to weight loss at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD.

It’s this surge in appetite, even more than the drop in metabolism people have after weight loss, that drives weight regain, he says.

The effect of appetite is three times stronger than the slowing metabolism. The two together virtually assure that lost pounds will creep back on, Hall says.

Independent experts who reviewed the study, which will be published in the November issue of the journal Obesity and presented on November 2 at the ObesityWeek conference, say it will probably change how doctors treat patients who’ve lost weight.

“This is a landmark study,” says Ken Fujioka, MD, director of the nutrition and metabolic research center at the Scripps Clinic in Del Mar, CA. “It gives us very useful information that will actually help us develop new guidelines,” to prevent weight regain, he says.

“We get patients all the time that hit these plateaus, and we’re trying to figure out, what do we do?” Fujioka says. “It’s real clear to us that you really need to deal with the food intake side, the driven appetite, from this paper.”

Metabolism and Food Intake

By some estimates, 80% of people who successfully lose at least 10% of their body weight will gradually regain it to end up as large or even larger than they were before they went on a diet.

Continued

Obesity researchers have been working for decades to understand why it is so hard to maintain weight loss. The prevailing theory — proved dramatically in a study of contestants from “The Biggest Loser” reality TV show that Hall published earlier this year — is that the body’s ability to burn calories at rest, or its resting metabolism, slows down, making it easy to regain weight.

The other piece of the equation, food intake after weight loss, has been much harder to study.

That’s because people are notoriously bad at keeping track of how much they eat. One famous study found that people trying to lose weight only thought they were eating about half as much as they actually were. It’s also been hard to measure appetite experimentally with drugs. That’s because most weight loss medications work by decreasing appetite, which interferes with study results.

Hall’s team got at the question in a new way, by taking another look at data from a recent study of a new diabetes drug, Invokana. Invokana reduces blood sugar by causing the body to dump some sugar through the urine.

“Getting rid of those calories also leads to weight loss, but in a covert way,” says Scott Kahan, MD, director of the National Center for Weight and Wellness at George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

“People don’t notice major changes in weight from the medication, but it’s enough that we can study what the change in weight and appetite would be,” Kahan says.

The study gave 242 people with type 2 diabetes either a daily dose of Invokana or a placebo pill. Over the course of a year, both groups lost some weight. The 89 people in the placebo group lost about 2 pounds. The 153 people who were taking Invokana lost about 7 pounds.

The puzzling thing to researchers was why the group taking the drug hadn’t lost more weight. Lab tests showed they were losing about 360 calories a day through their urine. Over time, even though the drug was subtracting a substantial number of calories each day, their weights plateaued.

Continued

Hall used an equation developed in his lab to figure out why. It estimates the number of calories a person would need to be eating to have weight changes over time.

He found that even though people in the study didn’t know how many calories the drug was cutting each day, their bodies were fighting against the weight loss, prompting them to eat more to make up the deficit.

Here’s how that might look in real life. If a person who normally eats about 2,700 calories a day loses about 9 pounds, their body will prompt them to eat about 400 more calories than they were before — a total of 3,100 calories a day.

‘This Gives Us Direction’

The implications for weight loss in the real world are profound, Kahan says.

“What I see in my patients, they have worked their butt off to lose weight and then keep it off. They can’t understand why they have all this success in other areas of their life, and they have such difficulty in this area of their life,” Kahan says.

“This is one of the pieces of that puzzle. This helps to explain that it’s not all your fault. Your body fights against the long-term maintenance of that weight. That’s very important,” he adds.

The study has some limitations. For one, researchers were studying people with type 2 diabetes. The results might not accurately represent appetite changes in healthy people, Hall says. It’s also not clear whether the kinds of appetite changes calculated for people in the study would apply to different amounts of weight loss. It could be that small weight changes don’t prompt the same big jumps in appetite as more substantial weight loss.

If further research supports these findings, Fujioka and Kahan say it points to a new way that doctors can help their patients.

Almost all prescription weight loss medications work by turning down a person’s appetite. It may be that people who lose weight can keep it off with the help of one of these drugs.

“This gives us direction,” Fujioka says. “I may also need to give my patients who’ve recently lost weight an appetite suppressant so they’re not so driven to eat.”

Sources

SOURCES:

Kevin Hall, PhD, section chief, Integrative Physiology Section, Laboratory of Biological Modeling, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, Bethesda, MD.

Ken Fujioka, MD, director, Nutrition and Metabolic Research Center, Scripps Clinic, in Del Mar, CA.

Scott Kahan, MD, director, National Center for Weight and Wellness, George Washington University, Washington D.C.

Polidori, Obesity, November 2016.

Lichtman, The New England Journal of Medicine, Dec. 31, 1992.

© 2016 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

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6th-Century Skeletons Shed Light on Deadly Plague Outbreaks

FRIDAY Sept. 2, 2016, 2016 — Ancient skeletons have helped scientists learn more about plague, and the discoveries could prove important in future outbreaks.

Centuries before the Black Death in the 1300s, the Justinian plague in the sixth century killed about 50 million people (15 percent of the world’s population) across the Byzantine Empire.

German scientists have now confirmed that both outbreaks were caused by the same bacterium — Yersinia pestis.

They found Y. pestis in sixth-century skeletons from Altenerding, an ancient burial site near Munich, and created the first high-quality genome — the full set of genes — of that strain of Y. pestis.

Among other things, the work uncovered 30 new mutations and gene changes unique to the Justinian strain. The discoveries offer new insights about the evolution of Y. pestis since the Justinian plague.

The data suggest the strain was genetically more diverse than once thought. But how it got to Germany remains a mystery, according to the study published online Aug. 30 in the journal Molecular Biology and Evolution.

“Our research confirms that the Justinianic plague reached far beyond the historically documented affected region and provides new insights into the evolutionary history of Yersinia pestis,” researcher Michal Feldman said in a journal news release.

Feldman studies archaeogenetics at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Jena, Germany.

Plague is considered a re-emerging disease in parts of the world, so new insight into evolutionary changes, adaptation and its impact could prove important, the study authors said.

More information

See The Deadly Seven: Where Are These Diseases Now? for more information about plague.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on plague.

Posted: September 2016

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‘Daddy went past a red light’: Massachusetts boy, 6, busts father

A police dispatcher outside Boston got an unexpected call last weekend when a 6-year-old boy dialed 911 to alert them that his father had run a red light on the way to the car wash, according to a recording posted online by the Quincy Police Department.

“Daddy went past a red light. My daddy went past a red light,” the boy said in the recording. “It was in a brand-new car, my mommy’s car.”

The operator then asked to speak with the father, who seemed unsurprised when he learned of his son’s call, according to the recording and a report in the Boston Globe.

The man apologized and the police dispatcher told him not to worry, that he simply wanted to make sure everyone was OK.

The Globe on Thursday identified the caller as Robbie Richardson, who told the newspaper he wants to go into police work when he grows up.

His father, Michael Richardson, told the newspaper his son had warned him that he had planned to call police. “He’s a smart kid,” the father said. “When he says he’s going to do something, he does it,”

Richardson could not be reached for immediate comment.

(Reporting by Scott Malone; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)


Reuters: Oddly Enough

Giving the ‘Green Light’ to Migraine Relief

TUESDAY May 17, 2016, 2016 — A new study sheds light — literally — on a potential means of easing migraine pain.

Researchers in Boston exposed 69 migraine patients to different colors of light. They found that while blue light exacerbated headache pain, a narrow spectrum of low-intensity green light significantly reduced light sensitivity.

In some cases, this green light also reduced migraine pain by about 20 percent, the researchers found.

They noted that migraine headache affects nearly 15 percent of people worldwide, and a frequent symptom of migraine is light sensitivity, also known as photophobia.

“Although photophobia is not usually as incapacitating as headache pain itself, the inability to endure light can be disabling,” study author Rami Burstein, of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, said in a medical center news release.

“More than 80 percent of migraine attacks are associated with and exacerbated by light sensitivity, leading many migraine sufferers to seek the comfort of darkness and isolate themselves from work, family and everyday activities,” he added. Burstein directs the medical center’s Comprehensive Headache Center.

Two experts said the treatment may have merit.

“Certainly Dr. Burstein’s work suggests that more research should be done, as this is a potentially beneficial new avenue for treatment,” said Dr. Noah Rosen, who directs Northwell Health’s Headache Center in Great Neck, N.Y.

He pointed out that “light therapy has been used successfully in other conditions such as certain dermatologic issues and seasonal affective disorder [SAD].”

Dr. Gayatri Devi is a neurologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

He said the success in some patients with light therapy “implicates the thalamus — a brain ‘relay station’ between the sensory organs, including the eyes and the cortex of the brain — as the area where migraine-related photophobia is amplified.”

For his part, Burstein said he’s now trying to develop an affordable light bulb that emits narrow-band green light at low intensity, as well as sunglasses that block all but the narrow band of green light.

Rosen stressed, however, that more study may still be needed.

“In general, it seems a safe treatment but one that is limited by cost, access and whether its use on a regular basis would decrease disability,” he said.

The findings were published May 17 in the journal Brain.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about migraines.

Posted: May 2016

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Magic Light Adapting ‘Stick Man’ for BBC Special

Magic-Light-Pictures-150

Magic Light Pictures has announced its next project will be animating the modern classic picture book Stick Man for a Christmas season special on BBC One in the U.K. Based on the 2008 book written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler, the half-hour Stick Man project marks Magic Light’s fourth collaboration with the author/illustrator team, preceded by the Oscar nominated Room on the Broom and multi-award winning The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo’s Child.

The A-list voice cast features Martin Freeman as Stick Man, Hugh Bonneville as Santa and Jennifer Saunders narrating, with Russell Tovey, Rob Brydon and Sally Hawkins. The special will take Stick Man on an epic adventure across the seasons as he is taken further and further from the home he shares in the family tree with his Stick Lady Love and their Stick Children. As he runs from a playful dog, gets thrown in a river, escapes from a swan’s nest and even end up on top of a fire, it’ll take all his effort to get back to his family in time for Christmas.

“What a treat to have voiced the hero in this beautifully animated film,” said Freeman. “We enjoyed reading Stick Man as a family for a number of years and my children always loved the scale of his epic journey. Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s books are simply wonderful and the film adaptations bring their own extra magic. This one is going to be really special though, filled with festive charm and a delight for viewers of all ages!”

Stick Man is a Magic Light Pictures production acquired for BBC One by Polly Hill, Controller of Drama. Directed by Jeroen Jaspaert, co-directed by Daniel Snaddon and produced by Michael Rose and Martin Pope. Triggerfish Animation Studios provides the animation.

Stick Man

Stick Man

Animation Magazine

UFO off California? Streaking light was missile test, Pentagon says

Social media lit up on Saturday night with reports of streaking lights across the skies from California to Arizona, but the phenomenon turned out to be a Navy missile test flight launched off the southern California coast, the Pentagon said.

A Pentagon public affairs spokesman said a U.S. Navy Strategic Systems Programs Trident II (D5) missile test flight was conducted at sea from the USS Kentucky, in the Pacific Test Range off the coast of Southern California.

Users of social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook posted photos, comments and video of the lights, wondering whether they might have come from everything from a meteor to a UFO.

The tests of the unarmed missile were part of a scheduled, on-going system evaluation test, according to the spokesman, Commander Ryan Perry.

Such launches are conducted on a frequent, recurring basis to ensure the continued reliability of the system, Perry said, as well as to provide systems information and assurances of their capabilities.

Because information regarding the test launch of Trident II (D5) missiles is classified prior to the launch, such missile testing is not routinely announced, he noted.

(Editing by Chris Michaud, Robert Birsel)


Reuters: Oddly Enough

Talk Therapy May Beat Light Treatment for SAD

Seasonal affective disorder is form of depression tied to winter’s shorter days

WebMD News from HealthDay

By Robert Preidt

HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Nov. 6, 2015 (HealthDay News) — As winter’s short days approach, more people will suffer from the depression of seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Now, new research suggests that talk therapy is better than light-box therapy in preventing relapses of the ailment.

“SAD is a type of depression that follows a seasonal pattern based on the duration of sunlight present during the day,” explained one expert not connected to the study, Dr. Matthew Lorber.

“In the early 1980s, it was discovered that people were more likely to get depressed during the winter due to decreased exposure to sunlight,” said Lorber, who is acting director of child and adolescent psychiatry at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

Lorber said that the American Psychiatric Association now recommends “light therapy” — timed, daily exposure to bright artificial light — as the treatment of choice for SAD.

The new study, led by psychology professor Kelly Rohan of the University of Vermont in Burlington, pitted light therapy against talk therapy in the treatment of SAD. The study included 177 people with SAD who received six weeks of treatment with either form of therapy.

The talk therapy was cognitive behavioral therapy, a treatment approach that taught people to challenge negative thoughts about dark winter months and to avoid behaviors, such as social isolation, that can harm mood.

In the first winter after initial treatment, both groups had similar relief from symptoms of depression associated with SAD, the findings showed. However, two winters after initial treatment, recurrence of depression symptoms occurred in 46 percent of those in the light therapy group, compared with only 27 percent of those in the talk therapy group.

Those in the light therapy group also tended to have more severe symptoms of depression than those who’d received the talk therapy, Rohan’s team said.

Many people also find it tough to stick to light therapy over the long term, Rohan added.

Patients have to “keep using the treatment for it to be effective,” she explained in a university news release. “Adhering to the light therapy prescription upon waking for 30 minutes to an hour every day for up to five months in dark states can be burdensome.”

WebMD Health

Portland City Council to Discuss Firing Up Green Light District

As Amsterdam tries to cleanup its image by cracking down on its so-called “Red Light District,” Portland’s City Commissioner Dan Saltzman is looking to consolidate the city’s marijuana businesses into one dank “Green Light District.”

At some point today, the Portland city Council will investigate reducing the current restrictions on marijuana sales for the central downtown area – potentially lifting a 1,000-foot buffer between marijuana related businesses.

Portland's Current Marijuana Businesses

Portland’s Current Marijuana Businesses

Provided this measure passes, brick-and-mortar marijuana shops could end up in a not-so-straight-line, one next to another.

According to Commissioner Saltzman:

“Our downtown core is really the place where we encourage people to come, whether it be shopping, dining or tourists coming to town.”

Looking to concentrate all of the marijuana shops into one area (a.k.a. The Green Light District), Commissioner Saltzman cultivated the pro-pot business amendment. Believing the consolidation of all marijuana related businesses in the downtown area would attract tourists – similar to Amsterdam’s GLD.

Find Portland’s Best Marijuana Shops

While potentially convenient for Portland’s marijuana tourists, Saltzman hopes to keep marijuana related storefronts from spreading their roots into Portland neighborhoods.

Saltzman told the Willamette Week, “It’s not the same as the bar environment. It’s really just people coming to purchase the product”.

If passed, the Commissioner’s sweet new proposal for consolidating marijuana businesses into a single area could eliminate the heated debate over Portland’s plan to issue business licenses on a first-come, first serve basis.

Marijuana