Caffeine may lower risk of skin cancer

Aug. 16, 2011 at 12:19 AM
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NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J., Aug. 16 (UPI) -- In a study involving mice, U.S. researchers found caffeine applied directly to the skin helped prevent ultraviolet light from causing skin cancer.

Allan Conney, director of the Susan Lehman Cullman Laboratory for Cancer Research at Rutgers University in New Jersey, and colleagues at the University of Washington said the study strengthens the theory that caffeine guards against certain skin cancers at the molecular level by inhibiting a protein enzyme in the skin -- ATR.

The genetically modified mice developed tumors more slowly than the unmodified mice, had 69 percent fewer tumors than regular mice and developed one-fourth as many invasive tumors, Conney said.

The study found when both groups of mice were exposed to chronic ultraviolet rays for an extended period of time, tumor development occurred in both the genetically modified and regular mice, indicating that inhibiting the ATR enzyme works best at the pre-cancerous stage, Conney said.

The findings are published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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