New Study Suggests Caffeine May Offer Protection Against Skin Cancer
Skin Cancer Foundation Experts Disagree
A recent study, published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, found what they believe to be the mechanism by which caffeine is associated with decreased skin cancer. However, The Skin Cancer Foundation sees no definitive link between the two.
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.
Researchers looked at caffeine's effect on human skin cells in a laboratory that had been exposed to ultraviolet radiation (UV). They found that in cells damaged by UV rays, caffeine interrupted a protein called ATR-Chk1, causing the damaged cells to self-destruct. ATR is essential to damaged cells that are growing rapidly and caffeine specifically targets damaged cells that can become cancerous, according to the study.
Researchers are also experimenting with applying caffeine topically with mice; however human studies have not yet been proven.
"First and foremost, mice and humans are very different. And, the study doesn't discuss how much caffeine would be needed for any real benefit," said Lefkovits. "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."