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Caffeine could help to reduce the risk of skin cancer

A new study has shown that caffeine could help prevent skin cancer. The findings – published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences – have shown that caffeine acts at the molecular level to prevent tumour development in skin exposed to sunlight.

“Topical application” of the caffeine in lotions and creams could prevent skin cancer cell growth in the skin. Studies have previously shown that simply drinking tea and coffee reduced the risk of developing less serious skin cancers caused by ultraviolet rays from the sun, but this is the first study that has shown how applying caffeine to the skin directly can give significant protective benefits from the harmful effects of the sun.

The study – which looked at over 93,000 women – found that each daily cup of caffeinated coffee was linked to a 5% reduction in the prevalence of skin cancer cells after exposure to the sun. Naturally, decaffeinated coffee had no effect at all and tea had a slightly reduced effect – reflective of its reduced amount of caffeine compared to coffee.

Dr Allan Conney of Rutgers University in New Jersey was studying the commonly held idea that caffeine prevents a particular biological action related to the growth of cancer cells.