Recent scientific studies claim to demonstrate a link between architectural lighting and cancer growth. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute's Lighting Research Center (LRC) has organized a panel discussion with leading epidemiologists and lighting scientists to discuss whether architectural lighting has an impact on the incidence of breast cancer and cancer growth.

On Monday, April 17, 2006, the LRC held a panel discussion on this important topic.

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The panelists included:

Richard Stevens, Ph.D., University of Connecticut Health Center
Dr. Stevens is a cancer epidemiologist at the University of Connecticut Health Center where he teaches and conducts research. One of his major research interests has focused on the confounding mystery of why breast cancer risk rises so dramatically as societies industrialize. He proposed in 1987 a radical new theory that the use of electric lighting, resulting in lighted nights, might produce "circadian disruption" causing changes in the hormones relevant to breast cancer risk. Accumulating evidence has generally supported the idea, and it has received wide scientific and public attention. His work has been featured on the covers of the popular weekly Science News and the scientific journal Cancer Research. Stevens spent 15 years at the U.S. Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Washington, before joining the UConn Health Center.

Julia Knight, Ph.D., University of Toronto
Dr. Knight is an associate professor in the Department of Public Health Sciences at the University of Toronto. The majority of her research is focused on understanding the etiology of breast cancer. She was a post-doctoral fellow and then a senior epidemiologist at Cancer Care Ontario. She later became an investigator at the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute of Mount Sinai Hospital. She earned a BSc degree in zoology from the University of Toronto and began graduate work in zoology before transferring to epidemiology, completing her MSc and Ph.D. in public health sciences.

Eva Schernhammer, MD, DrPH, Harvard Medical School
Dr. Schernhammer is assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and associate epidemiologist at Brigham and Women's Hospital. Her primary research interest is exploring the exposures that influence the circadian system in humans. She has examined the effects of light at night on cancer risk through the melatonin pathway. She demonstrated that the effects of light at night may affect not only breast cancer, but also other cancers such as colorectal cancer, generating evidence that supports a new hypothesis on the development of cancer. Schernhammer has also conducted research measuring variations of the hormone melatonin in night-shift workers and its association with breast cancer risk.

Mariana Figueiro, Ph.D., Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute's Lighting Research Center
Dr. Figueiro is an assistant professor at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a program director at Rensselaer's Lighting Research Center. Her research areas include photobiology, energy-efficient lighting, human factors in lighting, lighting applications, and working to better understand and quantify light as a stimulus for the circadian system. She has written numerous scientific articles for archival journals and trade publications and worked on the 9th edition of the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America Lighting Handbook. She also led the development of lighting design guidelines for older adults as outlined in the publication Lighting the Way: A Key to Independence, sponsored by the AARP Andrus Foundation.

The panel discussion will kick off with opening remarks from Dr. Mark Rea, Ph.D., LRC director. Dr. Rea is an expert in human vision, lighting engineering, human factors, photobiology, psychology, light and health, nighttime vision, and visual performance.

The discussion will be moderated by John Bullough, Ph.D., adjunct assistant professor at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and lighting scientist at Rensselaer's LRC. The Illuminating Engineering Society of North America recently honored Dr. Bullough with the society's annual Fellow designation for his influential research in the field of lighting.

Related light and health press releases and newsletter articles

New research shows teens can adjust their circadian clock by sitting in front of a light
Framework Developed for Testing How Lighting Can Affect Human Health
New Math: Two Plus Two Equals Three
Tool to Measure Light Exposure for Circadian System
Researchers Use Blue Light to Treat Sleep Disturbances in the Elderly
Link to a list of related journal articles and conference papers.

Additional information:

For more information about this event, please contact Keith Toomey at