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Caffeine and Exercise May Offer Skin Cancer Protection from Sun, Study Shows

By HERWriter
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possible-skin-cancer-protection-from-caffeine-and-exercise Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock

Exercise and caffeine consumption are two popular activities, so it is heartening to think that combining the two may offer some health benefits.

A new study performed at the Rutgers Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy in Piscataway N.J. was presented at the AACR annual meeting March 31 to April 4, 2012. The research showed that this combination might help ward off skin cancer as well as prevent inflammation in other cancers that are affected by obesity.

The study was performed on 160 female mice that were at high risk for developing skin cancer. The mice were exposed to low-dose UV light once a day, 5 days a week for 20 weeks, to model human exposure to UV radiation.

In previous studies, the researchers have found that mice treated with just caffeine or just exercise via a running wheel, each showed a reduction of skin cancer occurrence. In this study, they wanted to explore whether there was a synergistic inhibitory effect on skin cancer development from both together.

Researchers found that mice that consumed caffeine and exercised on a running wheel developed 62 percent fewer skin tumors. Mice that consumed caffeine only or exercised only, did have benefits but at much lesser levels of 27 and 35 percent respectively.

The tumor size of the skin cancers were also 85 percent less in the caffeine/exercise mice while the tumor size of the caffeine-only mice had a lesser reduction of only 61 percent and 70 percent in the exercise-only mice.

To further explore the effect of caffeine and exercise on weight and inflammation, the researchers fed mice a high-fat diet of omega-6 fatty acid rich foods. Then after two weeks, they measured the volume of the parametrial fat pad (the largest fat pad in a mouse) in all the groups of mice.

“Mice that had caffeine and exercised had a fat pad weight decrease of 63 percent. Caffeine-only mice had a 30 percent decrease, and exercise-only mice had a 56 percent decrease. Development and size of cancer decreased as well,” according to Medicalxpress.com.

Yao-Pin Lu, PH.D. the lead researcher and associate research professor of chemical biology reported in Time.com that “the mice move more with caffeine. The common mechanism we see is that both [exercise and caffeine] decrease tissue fat. Both moderately prevent skin cancer.”

What the researchers also discovered is that caffeine consumption and exercise reduced inflammation in mice by 92 percent as determined by measurements of cytokines and other factors associated with inflammation.

Inflammation occurs in numerous health conditions and according to a cancer rate report in the Associated Press, “Two out of every three adults is overweight or obese, and that seems to be contributing to rising case rates for cancers of the esophagus, uterus, pancreas and kidney. Excess weight triggers production of insulin and certain hormones that can play a role in cancer growth, experts say.”

Studies on mice do not mean the results will transfer to humans, though Dr. Lu feels that there is evidence that humans may “benefit from these combination treatments as well.”

For now, keep drinking water and wearing sunscreen when outside exercising, though you probably don’t need to feel guilty if you have a cup of joe before you start out for that morning jog.


Caffeine and exercise may be protective against skin cancer caused by sun exposure. April 3, 2012 in Cancer. Retrieved Apr. 8, 2012.

Caffeine and Exercise: A Protective Mix Against Skin Cancer, in Mice. Time: Healthland. Retrieved Apr. 8, 2012. http://healthland.time.com/2012/04/04/caffeine-and-exercise-a-protective...

Report: US cancer rates continue downward trend. The Associated Press 2012. Retrieved Apr. 8, 2012.

Michele is an R.N. freelance writer with a special interest in woman’s healthcare and quality of care issues. Other articles by Michele are at www.helium.com/users/487540/show_articles

Edited by Jody Smith

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EmpowHER Guest

II have a scar on my right cheek from a large mole removed when I was three years old. It was itchy and the bumpy red part bled when scratched. Turns out it was Basal Cell Carcinoma.

October 11, 2012 - 8:24pm
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