Caffeine & Skin Cancer Prevention

Cancer Research, News — By on November 11, 2008 at 9:25 am

The most important risk factor for development of skin cancer is exposure to UV rays, mainly from sunlight. The UV radiation damages the DNA in the skin cells. The damaged cells grow and divide uncontrollably, leading to the development of a tumor. Researchers are now looking for ways to reverse the damage to the affected skin cells and lower the risk for development of skin cancer.

A few years ago, investigators found women who drank at least six cups of coffee/day had about a
30 percent lower rate of nonmelanoma skin cancer compared to non-coffee drinkers. This effect was only seen in women who drank caffeinated coffee. Decaf coffee didn’t provide any benefit.

That led scientists to believe something in caffeine was protecting the women from skin cancer, even though the caffeine was taken orally.

In a recent study, researchers at the University of Washington in Seattle exposed a group of mice to UV radiation. Then, a one-percent caffeine solution was placed on the skin of half the mice. The other half received a solution without any caffeine. The investigators found the mice who received the
caffeine solution had fewer damaged skin cells compared to those who received the no-caffeine solution.

Dermatologist/Researcher Paul Nghiem, M.D., Ph.D., says the caffeine appears to help the body eliminate the damaged cells so they can be replaced by healthy cells.

Nghiem would like to study the effects of the caffeine solution in humans. Read more

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