Posted October 23, 2011

CAFFEINE could be a useful addition to sunscreens since it both absorbs ultraviolet light and protects against skin cancer, say scientists.

A new study has shown how the coffee stimulant acts at the molecular level to prevent sunlight triggering tumour development in the skin.

The findings suggest that caffeine in creams or lotions could help prevent sun-induced skin cancer.

Previous studies had already shown that coffee and tea consumption reduced the risk of less serious, non-melanoma, skin cancers caused by exposure to ultraviolet rays.

In the largest investigation involving 93,676 women, each daily cup of caffeinated coffee was dose-dependently linked to a 5% reduction in skin cancer prevalence.

Decaffeinated coffee had no effect, and tea had a reduced effect consistent with its lower levels of caffeine.

The new research was led by Dr Allan Conney, from Rutgers University in New Jersey.

Caffeine is known to suppress an enzyme, called ATR, that “rescues” stressed or DNA-damaged cells.

When mice were exposed to UV light, tumours developed three weeks later in those modified to have less active ATR.

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