ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Obesity May Raise Kids' Allergy Risk
Childhood Food Allergies on the Rise
Using Music and Sports to Improve Kids' Asthma
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Wristbands May Lessen Nausea After Radiation
Grapefruit Compound Inhibits Hepatitis C Virus
Massage Fosters Healing in Bereaved Relatives
ANIMAL CARE
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
Beware of Dog Bites
Safe Toys for Dogs
BONES & JOINTS
Active Young Women Need Calcium, Vitamin D
Varicose, Spider Veins May Be Inevitable for Some
More Faces Being Spared in Motor Vehicle Accidents
CANCER
Low Vitamin D Levels May Initiate Cancer Development
Vitamin C Shows Promise as Cancer Treatment
More Cancer Tests Mean More False-Positive Results
CAREGIVING
Stressed Health Care Workers Battle 'Compassion Fatigue'
Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome as Deadly as Ever
Undoing the 'Big Baby' Trend
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Review Confirms Links Between Diet, Heart Health
Varicose Veins May Mask Larger Problem
Grapefruit-Heavy Diet Helped Spur Dangerous Clot
COSMETIC
Science May Banish Bad Hair Days
Mouse Study Finds Molecule That Tells Hair to Grow
With Psoriasis, the Internet May Offer Hope
DENTAL, ORAL
Biological Product Shows Promise Against Gum Disease
Mom's Vitamin D Levels Affect Baby's Dental Health
Dental Implants Need More Work Than Root Canals
DIABETES
Saliva Test Could Monitor Type 2 Diabetes
Laughter May Lower Heart Attack Risk in Diabetics
Brown Rice Bests White for Diabetes Prevention
DIET, NUTRITION
Eating More Soy May Be Good For Your Lung Function
Vitamin B12 Key to Aging Brain
Atkins Diet Tougher on Heart After Weight Loss
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Where You Live May Affect Your Cancer Diagnosis
Fish in U.S. Rivers Tainted With Common Medications
Cats Can Trigger Eczema in Some Infants
EYE CARE, VISION
Eye Problems, Hearing Loss May Be Linked
Autistic Children Make Limited Eye Contact
Certain Diabetes Drugs May Pose Eye Risk
FITNESS
Vigorous Exercise Can Cut Breast Cancer Risk
Seniors Who Exercise Help Their Health
Occupational Therapy Plus Exercise Benefits Osteoarthritis
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
New Yogurt May Ease Stomach Ulcers
Olive Oil May Protect Against Bowel Disease
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
GENERAL HEALTH
Stressed and Exhausted: An Introduction to Adrenal Fatigue
You Can Get Great Exercise In The Garden
Any Old Cane Won't Do
HEAD & NECK
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Imaging Sheds Light on How Acupuncture Works
Save Your Aging Brain, Try Surfing The Web
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Using Light Therapy to Silence Harmful Brain Activity
Walk Long, Slow and Often to Help the Heart
Too-Low Blood Pressure Can Also Bring Danger
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Swine Flu Closes Three Schools in NYC
Bacterial Infections May Succumb to Honey
Older Adults May Have Some Immunity to Swine Flu
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
More Calcium And Dairy Products in Childhood Could Mean Longer Life
St. John's Wort Doesn't Work for ADHD
Obese Children More Likely to Suffer Lower Body Injuries
MEN'S HEALTH
Drinking Green Tea May Slow Prostate Cancer
Sunlight May Help Protect Men From Kidney Cancer
Whole Grains, Bran May Fight Hypertension in Men
MENTAL HEALTH
Have a Goal in Life? You Might Live Longer
Keeping a Healthy Holiday Balance
Man's Best Friend Helps Mend Broken Hearts
PAIN
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Woman in America Are Delaying Motherhood, Study Says
Acupuncture May Relieve Acid Indigestation In Pregnancy
Pre-Pregnancy Weight Linked to Babies' Heart Problems
SENIORS
Fitness Fades Fast After 45
Life Expectancy in U.S. Hits New High
Tai Chi May Help Ward Off Knee Pain in Seniors
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Simple Carbs Pose Heart Risk for Women
Rheumatoid Arthritis Rising Among U.S. Women
Woman in America Are Delaying Motherhood, Study Says
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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