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Forget Sunblock; Just Drink Coffee, Work Out

April 4, 2012
Written by: , Filed in: Pediatric Radiology
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Worried about ultraviolet radiation from sunlight and the skin cancer it can cause? Just drink coffee and get some exercise.

That seems to be the implication of a study presented at the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) annual meeting in Chicago. Said Yao-Ping Lu, PhD, who presented the findings:

We found that this combination treatment can decrease sunlight-caused skin cancer formation in a mouse model.

Dr. Lu is associate research professor of chemical biology and director of skin cancer prevention at the Rutgers Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy in Piscataway, New Jersey. He was quoted in an AACR news release.

The AACR meeting opened Saturday and closes today.

Skin cancer–prone mice who both consumed caffeine and exercised experienced 62 percent fewer skin tumors than mice who did neither. The tumors they did get were 85 percent smaller than the tumors of the control mice.

Mice that consumed caffeine but did not exercise had a 27 percent reduction in tumors and a 61 percent reduction in tumor size. Mice that exercised but didn’t get caffeine had a 35 percent reduction in tumors and a 70 percent reduction in tumor size.

Both exercise and caffeine reduced weight and inflammation. Dr. Lu said he believes the key was the inflammation reduction—as much as 92 percent in mice that both exercised and consumed caffeine.

It’s not the first time caffeine has been found to have skin cancer–preventive properties. Another Rutgers study, published online last August in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that caffeine topically applied to the skin of mice reduced squamous cell skin cancers by 72 percent.

Allan Conney, PhD, an author of the study, said:

Although it is known that coffee drinking is associated with a decreased risk of nonmelanoma skin cancer, there now needs to be studies to determine whether topical caffeine inhibits sunlight-induced skin cancer.

Dr. Conney is director of the Susan Lehman Cullman Laboratory for Cancer Research at the Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy. He was quoted in a Rutgers news release.

So work out faithfully and replace your sports drink with coffee. Or just pour a cup all over yourself before you go out in the sun.

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Patients with gastrointestinal disorders have been getting  a lot more radiation lately. For details, see our Facebook page.

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