Caffeine Plus Exercise Protects Against Skin Cancer

Do you love your morning coffee? Do you love to exercise? Well, so do I. Here’s another reason why we should keep it up: caffeine and exercise might reduce the risk of skin cancer.

A laboratory study of mice found that caffeine and exercise boosted the elimination of ultraviolet light (UV) damaged cells. Disposal of these damaged cells before they can grow reduces the risk of a skin cancer developing.

The study compared the effects of caffeine, exercise, and the combination of both in three groups of hairless mice. Hairless or nude mice are particularly vulnerable to ultraviolet light radiation and are prone to skin cancer.

One group of mice drank caffeinated water, the equivalent of one to two cups of coffee a day. Another group ran on an exercise wheel, the equivalent of a 2.5 mile jog for us.  A third group drank caffeinated water and ran the wheel. All of the mice were exposed to UV radiation. The rate of elimination of damaged cells was highest in the third group that both drank caffeine and exercised.

A different study found that topical application of caffeine can also help prevent skin cancer. Caffeine applied 30 minutes before UVB exposure inhibited cell DNA damage by 80 percent. In other studies, caffeine has been shown to decrease the risk of breast and liver cancer.

Of course, caffeine and exercise are not a substitute for wearing sunscreen; however, they might justify splurging on a latte today. But please don’t place your Starbucks Venti coffee on the gym treadmill next to me in the morning — that drives me nuts.

Photo: Adria Richards (flickr)

2 thoughts on “Caffeine Plus Exercise Protects Against Skin Cancer”

  1. I would recommend a non-comedogenic sunscreen so you don’t block your pores and cause acne. No sense in getting a different skin condition while avoiding another one.

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