New Brunswick, N.J. -- Regular exercise and little or no caffeine has become a popular lifestyle choice for many Americans. But a new Rutgers study has found that it may not be the best formula for preventing sun-induced skin damage that could lead to cancer. Low to moderate amounts of caffeine, in fact, along with exercise can be good for your health.
According to the National Cancer Institute, sunlight-induced skin cancer is the most prevalent cancer in the United States with more than 1 million new cases each year. A research team at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, showed that a combination of exercise and some caffeine protected against the destructive effects of the suns ultraviolet-B (UVB) radiation, known to induce skin cancer. The caffeine and exercise seemingly conspire in killing off precancerous cells whose DNA has been damaged by UVB-rays.
The studies, conducted in the Susan Lehman Cullman Laboratory for Cancer Research at Rutgers Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy, appear in the July 31 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
Groups of hairless mice, whose exposed skin is vulnerable to the sun, were the test subjects in experiments in which one set drank caffeinated water (the human equivalent of one or two cups of coffee a day); another voluntarily exercised on a running wheel; while a third group both drank and ran. A fourth group, which served as a control, didnt run and didnt caffeinate. All of the mice were exposed to lamps that generated UVB radiation that damaged the DNA in their skin cells.
Some degree of programmed cell death, also known as apoptosis, was observed in the DNA-damaged cells of all four groups, but the caffeine drinkers and exercisers showed an increase over the UVB-treated control group. Apoptosis is a way in which cells with badly damaged DNA commit suicide UVB-damaged cells in this case.