ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
Know Your Asthma Triggers
Herbal Remedy Could Halt Peanut Allergy
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Meditation May Boost Short-Term Visual Memory
Tai Chi: An Ideal Exercise for Many People with Diabetes
Soybean Chemicals May Reduce Effects of Menopause
ANIMAL CARE
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
BONES & JOINTS
Using a Balloon to Repair a Broken Back
Weight Loss Might Not Curb Knee Arthritis
Returning to the Road Tricky After Injury
CANCER
Many Cancer Patients Turn to Complementary Medicine
Vitamin E, Selenium and Soy Won't Prevent Prostate Cancer
Scams and Shams That Prey on Cancer Patients
CAREGIVING
Memory Loss Help from Brain Supplement Prevagen
U.S. Mental Health Spending Rises, But Many Still Left Out
TV Watching Doesn't Fast-Track Baby's Skills
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Anemia Rates Down for U.S. Women and Children
Grapefruit-Heavy Diet Helped Spur Dangerous Clot
Exercise Extends Life of Kidney Patients
COSMETIC
Gum Chewing May Cut Craving for Snacks
The Acne Drug Accutane More Than Doubles Depression Risk
New Genetic Links to Baldness Discovered
DENTAL, ORAL
Gum Care Helps Control Type 2 Diabetes and Its Complications
Scientists Find Gene for Tooth Enamel
Biological Product Shows Promise Against Gum Disease
DIABETES
Americans Consuming More Sugary Beverages
Fructose-Sweetened Drinks Up Metabolic Syndrome Risk
Diabetes Linked to Cognitive Problems
DIET, NUTRITION
6 Million U.S. Kids Lack Enough Vitamin D
HELP TO LOSE WEIGHT ON A LOW CAL BUDGET
For Fitness, Cutting Calories May Not Be Enough
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Cats Can Trigger Eczema in Some Infants
Household Insecticides May Be Linked to Autoimmune Diseases
Database Helps Assess Your Breast Cancer Risk
EYE CARE, VISION
Guard Kids' Eyes Against Long-Term Sun Damage
Clues Found to Brain Mechanism Behind Migraines
Blood Sugar Control Helps Diabetics Preserve Sight
FITNESS
Being Active an Hour a Day Puts Brakes on Weight Gain
Women Who Run May Benefit From Extra Folic Acid
Exercise Key Player in Knee Replacement Recovery
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Intestinal Bacteria Trigger Immune Response
Traditional Nonsurgical GERD Treatments Not Impressive
Olive Oil May Protect Against Bowel Disease
GENERAL HEALTH
Swine Flu Now Reported in All 50 States
Music Therapy For Prehistoric Man?
The Juice From Beetroots May Boost Stamina
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Subway Defibrillators Save Lives
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Imaging Sheds Light on How Acupuncture Works
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Arteries Age Twice as Fast in Smokers
Laughter Can Boost Heart Health
Estrogen May Help Men's Hearts
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Bacterial Infections May Succumb to Honey
Older Adults May Have Some Immunity to Swine Flu
Swine Flu Loves a Crowd
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Combo Treatment Eases Wheezing in Babies
Protect Your Kids From Swine Flu While at Camp
Folic Acid Reduces Infant Heart Defects
MEN'S HEALTH
Varicose Veins May Mask Larger Problem
Soy Linked to Low Sperm Count
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
MENTAL HEALTH
Cinnamon Breaks Up Brain Plaques, May Hold Key to Fighting Alzheimer’s
A Little Alcohol May Stave Off Alzheimer's
Most Depressed Teens Don't Get Treatment
PAIN
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Acupuncture May Ease Depression During Pregnancy
Heart Defects in Newborns Linked to Antidepressants
Exercise Boosts Bone Density in Breast-Feeding Moms
SENIORS
Martial Arts Training May Save Seniors' Hips
A Little Alcohol May Stave Off Alzheimer's
Any Old Cane Won't Do
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Moderate Aerobics May Ease Insomnia Symptoms
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Women Smokers Lose 14.5 Years Off Life Span
Soy May Not Lead to Denser Breasts
Being Active an Hour a Day Puts Brakes on Weight Gain
Add your Article

Caffeine May Offer Some Skin Cancer Protection

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Feb. 26 (HealthDay News) -- Past studies have suggested that caffeine might offer some protection from skin cancer, and new research may explain why.

"We have found what we believe to be the mechanism by which caffeine is associated with decreased skin cancer," said lead researcher Dr. Paul Nghiem, an associate professor of dermatology at the University of Washington in Seattle.

For the study, Nghiem's team looked at caffeine's effect on human skin cells in a laboratory that had been exposed to ultraviolet radiation. They found that in cells damaged by UV rays, caffeine interrupted a protein called ATR-Chk1, causing the damaged cells to self-destruct.

"Caffeine has no effect on undamaged cells," Nghiem said.

ATR is essential to damaged cells that are growing rapidly, Nghiem said, and caffeine specifically targets damaged cells that can become cancerous. "Caffeine more than doubles the number of damaged cells that will die normally after a given dose of UV," he said.

"This is a biological mechanism that explains what we have been seeing for many years from the oral intake of caffeine," he added.

The findings were published online Feb. 26 in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology.

But, Nghiem added, people shouldn't increase the amount of coffee or tea they drink to prevent skin cancer. "You are talking a lot of cups for a lot of years for a relatively small effect," he said. "But if you like it, it's another reason to drink it."

Nghiem has also been experimenting with applying caffeine directly to the skin. "It suppresses skin cancer development by as much as 72 percent in mice, and human studies are moving ahead slowly," he said.

It's possible that topical caffeine preparations might one day be used to help prevent skin cancer, Nghiem said. "Caffeine is both a sunscreen and it deletes damaged cells," he said. "It may well make sense to put it into a sunscreen preparation."

Dr. Robin Ashinoff, a dermatologist and clinical associate professor of dermatology at New York University's Langone Medical Center, thinks these findings need to be verified before they can have any clinical application.

"This study tells me that caffeine may be a useful ingredient topically to remove ultraviolet-genetically damaged cells from reproducing," Ashinoff said. "This may help prevent the development of skin cancer."

"It is interesting that caffeine, which is thought to have a negative connotation, has already been shown to be associated with lower incidences of non-melanoma skin cancers in several epidemiological studies," she added.

Dr. Albert Lefkovits, a spokesman for the Skin Cancer Foundation and an associate clinical professor of dermatology at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, doesn't think it's been proven that caffeine reduces the risk of skin cancer.

"While this is an interesting concept that has been explored before, it will take years of extensive testing to determine whether this will be a worthwhile prevention method," Lefkovits said.

"And, the study doesn't discuss how much caffeine would be needed for any real benefit," he said. "For instance, many people drink large amounts of caffeine on a daily basis and still get skin cancer. Protecting yourself from the sun is currently the only proven way to prevent skin cancer."

More information

To learn more about skin cancer, visit the American Cancer Society.



SOURCES: Paul Nghiem, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of dermatology, University of Washington, Seattle; Robin Ashinoff, M.D., dermatologist and clinical associate professor, dermatology, New York University Langone Medical Center, New York City; Albert Lefkovits, M.D., spokesman, the Skin Cancer Foundation, and associate clinical professor of dermatology, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York City; February 2009, Journal of Investigative Dermatology, online

Last Updated: Feb. 26, 2009

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