Coffee may help wake you up in the morning, but a new study is showing it can even help prevent skin cancer.
The study released Monday by Rutgers University reinforces a theory that caffeine guards against certain skin cancers at the molecular level. The caffeine found in coffee and many other caffeinated drinks helps inhibit a protein enzyme in the skin, known as ATR, according to a news release from the university.
Scientists say they believe caffeine applied directly to the skin might help prevent damaging ultraviolet light from causing skin cancer.
The study examined mice that drank caffeinated water and were exposed to lamps that generated UVB radiation — a cause of skin cancer. Researchers found those mice that drank caffeine in their water were able to kill off a greater percentage of badly damaged cells, which reduced the risk of skin cancer.
Also, skin cancer didn’t develop as well on the mice that had caffeine topically applied.
“Caffeine might become a weapon in prevention because it inhibits ATR and also acts as a sunscreen and directly absorbs damaging UV light,” said Allan Conney, who worked on the study, in a news release.
In the United States in 2010, there were an estimated 1 million new cases of skin cancer and less than 1,000 deaths from it, according to the National Cancer Institute.
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