When I was a little girl my parents would often tell me not to sit too close to the TV because it would damage my eyes. I listened, figuring that was the worst of it. As I grew into a teen, I was told that watching television would inevitably kill my brain cells. Definitely not something that I wanted to happen. Now as an adult, even curbing my television intake isn’t enough. I’m stricken with another concern, watching too much late night TV will cause depression.

I just can’t win.

New research from a group of neuroscientists at Ohio State University Medical Center tested groups of lab hamsters that were exposed to dim light at night. The hamsters began to display unusual signs of depression. Many of the same symptoms that mirror depression found in humans. The animals began to show signs of tumor necrosis factors (TNF), a chemical messenger that is mobilised when the body is infected, causing inflammation in an effort to repair itself.

Randy Nelson, a scientist on the study, explained the relationship.

“Researchers have found a strong association in people between chronic inflammation and depression,” he said. “That’s why it is very significant that we found this relationship between dim light at night and increased expression of TNF.”

The good news is that after the hamsters were placed back into normal light-dark cycles their depression lessened and then disappeared. The same can be stated for people who sit in front of the TV late at night.

Are you a late night television watcher?


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