Caffeine May Fight Skin Cancer

Aug 27, 2002

Caffeine has been found to lower the risk of skin cancer in laboratory mice, reports the Associated Press. A study suggests that a skin lotion with caffeine or with another compound found in green tea can reduce by more than half the number of cancer tumors on the skin of hairless mice exposed to brutal levels of ultraviolet radiation.

Unlike sunscreen lotions, which protect against skin cancer by preventing the skin from absorbing ultraviolet rays from the sun, the caffeine’s cancer protection works in the cells after exposure to the ultraviolet rays. Rays from the sun can cause genetic changes in the skin that can lead to skin cancer. Dr. Allan Conney, senior author of a study appearing this week in the online site of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, says caffeine apparently blocks this action by causing abnormal cells to kill themselves, a type of programmed cell suicide that prevents development of abnormal growths. The caffeine acts selectively, causing the abnormal cells to die but not affecting the normal cells, he says.

Skin cancer is the most common of all cancers in the United States. The American Academy of Dermatology estimates about a million cases will be diagnosed in the country this year. Among them will be more than 88,000 new cases of melanoma, the disease’s deadliest form. Skin cancer generally is curable. Left untreated, it can be deadly.

Moderator Comment: Will medical news such as this lead to an increase in the consumption of beverages with caffeine?

We’ll have a latte, no skin cancer, thank you. [George
Anderson – Moderator

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