Drinking coffee might not ward off skin cancer, but the link between cancer and caffeine might be stronger than you think!
In an American study, when levels of a skin protein called ATR were lowered in mice, the mice took longer to develop skin cancer when exposed to UV lights. Caffeine has been shown to lower levels of ATR. Does this mean that coffee can keep skin cancer away? Find out what top dermatologists, Dr. Michael Gold of Gold Skin Care Center in Nashville, TN and Dr. Dina D. Strachan of Aglow Dermatology in New York City, have to say!
“What this information suggests is that caffeine, and foods or topical products containing caffeine may indeed be photoprotective — to what degree is unclear,” says Dr. Strachan.
This is a study in mice, Dr. Strachan points out, so don’t think this research is ready to be applied to humans just yet!
This sounds like it has potential, but how can caffeine protect skin from the sun?
“Caffeine has been a potent antioxidant for some time and has known beneficial effects on reversing sun damage and from this data may actually be important in sun protection,” explains Dr. Gold.
So could it really be used in sunscreens?
“Yes,” says Dr. Gold. “We use antioxidants to fight the effects of the sun all the time so using it as a preventative therapy/treatment is potentially a very good idea.”
Should we all run out and get our Starbucks fixes?
“I think we need to understand we are talking about caffeine, an ingredient in coffee and not coffee itself – otherwise I can envision people just pouring hot coffee over themselves which would not be a good thing,” says Dr. Gold. “But caffeine as a sun protector – good idea.”
Dr. Strachan seconds this cautionary warning, saying, “Given this preliminary information, I would not recommend drinking loads of coffee with the idea that it would then be safe to sunbathe.”
Don’t start chowing down on coffee beans just yet. We’ll just have to wait and see what caffeine can do for us in the future!
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