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Coffee Beats Skin Cancer Two Ways

Coffee Beats Skin Cancer Two Ways

Could your morning cup of joe beat back skin cancer? It might. And it seems you may get equal protection from your java whether you sip it or slather it.

It's the caffeine in coffee that seems to do the trick. Numerous animal studies have already found that ingesting caffeine protects against certain types of skin cancer. And a study suggests that caffeine-based lotions may prevent the sun's UV radiation from sparking skin cancer in humans, too.

Cancer-Curbing Coffee?
In the study, human skin cells were first bathed in caffeine in a lab dish and then exposed to UVB radiation. The caffeine not only blocked two key mechanisms that trigger the birth of skin tumors, it also caused the death of UVB-damaged skin cells that could otherwise turn cancerous. More research is needed to confirm whether caffeine in sunscreen will protect as well as it did in a petri dish, but it can't hurt to ask your dermatologist or pharmacist about available caffeine-containing sunscreens. (There are a few on the market today.) Check your sunscreen's label for these other protective ingredients, too.

From the Cup or Tube?
Since sunlight-induced skin cancer is the most common form of cancer (up to 2 million cases of non-melanoma cancer each year), caffeine, whether from a cup or a tube, could be one of the least expensive ways to protect your skin. If you get the jitters from coffee or other caffeinated beverages, simply stick to decaf and use a caffeine-containing sunscreen, instead.

Also give these other skin-protective strategies, a try:

Medically reviewed in February 2020.

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