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Fight skin cancer with caffeine and exercise?

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Caffeine and exercise could reduce the chances of skin cancer from sunlight

New research shows we may be able to fight skin cancer from sun exposure with caffeine and exercise. The finding is important, in light of new reports that melanoma is on the rise, especially among young adults. According to the findings, conducted on mice, exercise and caffeine might also protect from other types of cancers that are the result of obesity.

Yao-Ping Lu, Ph.D., associate research professor of chemical biology and director of skin cancer prevention at the Rutgers Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy in Piscataway, N.J. reports in mouse studies, the combination of caffeine and exercise might decrease the chances of skin cancer in humans.

The researchers also found either caffeine or exercise alone might reduce the chances of skin cancer.

How exercise and caffeine might thwart skin cancer

For the study, Lu and colleagues studied mouse prone to skin cancer. Exposure to sun and tanning beds increase a person’s risk of melanoma, basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell cancer.

Rough, red scaly patches in the skin, known as actinic keratosis, are often found on sun exposed skin areas and are considered pre-cancerous. If you’ve been sunburned you are at risk for skin cancer, making it important to use sunscreen starting early in life. The odds of developing cancer of the skin increase with age.

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The investigation found mice that exercised on a spinning wheel and given coffee, but prone to develop skin cancer, had 62% fewer skin lesions.

Exercise alone also reduced the appearance of skin cancer, but by just 35%. Mice given caffeine but no exercise had a 27% reduction in skin tumors.

The researchers noted exercise and caffeine might be interventions that provoke weight loss and reduce inflammation, accounting for the finding. The mice had lower levels of inflammation and less fat from the combination of exercise and caffeine.

The mice were fed a high-fat diet that included omega-6 fatty acids, which can promote inflammation and possibly cancer when consumed in high quantities. The study could mean caffeine and exercise are easy interventions for humans that can lower our risk of developing skin cancer caused by sunlight and tanning beds.

April 3, 2012

University of Maryland Medical Center
“Omega-6 Fatty Acids”

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