Can Caffeine Offer Protection Against Skin Cancer?

Past studies have suggested that caffeine could possibly offer protection from skin cancer. However until now there had not been a clear explanation on how caffeine could protect from skin cancer. Many consumers have bought into the suggestion without any real, concrete proof of any relevant benefits.

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

Dr. Nghiem’s team investigated the effects of caffeine on human skin cells in a laboratory that had been exposed to ultraviolet radiation. Dr. Nghiem’s team found that in cells damaged by UV rays, caffeine stopped a protein called ATR-Chk1. This than caused the damaged cells to self-destruct.

Dr. Nghiem said, “ATR is essential to damaged cells that are growing rapidly”, as caffeine explicitly targets damaged cells that can become cancerous. Dr. Nghiem continued on to say “Caffeine more than doubles the number of damaged cells that will die normally after a given dose of UV, this is a biological mechanism that explains what we have been seeing for many years from the oral intake of caffeine”.

Dr. Nghiem said “Caffeine is both a sunscreen and it deletes damaged cells, It may well make sense to put it into a sunscreen preparation.” With all the concerns related to the depletion of the ozone layer and the increased intensity of the sun, caffeine could be a great benefit in the future,.

However Dr. Robin Ashinoff, a dermatologist and clinical associate professor of dermatology at New York University’s Langone Medical Center, believes that these findings need to be verified & tested before Caffeine is used as a cure against skin cancer.

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

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 also believes that further tests need to be undertaken to confirm whether caffeine does protect against cancer.

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