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Medicine in the News
Caffeine May Kill Skin Cancer
• New study discovers that caffeine may help kill
off human cells damaged by UV light (major
trigger of skin cancer)
• The study only applies to non-melanoma skin
cancers, which do not metastasize or cause
death in many cases
• The study of more than 90,000 Caucasian
women found that with every cup of coffee
consumed, there was a 5 percent decrease in
the risk of developing skin cancer
How does it work?
• The UV rays can cause DNA to mutate or
become cancerous
• Cellular suicide (apoptosis)=when the cells
become damaged by UV light, cells initiate
this suicide program
• Without caffeine, 1/500 cells will
experience apoptosis when exposed to
UV, but with caffeine, 1/200 cells undergo
Cellular Suicide
• The normal cellular response when DNA is
damaged is to activate a protein to initiate repair
• ATR is caffeine’s target in the cell—Cells that
are dividing, precancerous, or damaged need
more ATR, but with caffeine, ATR is suppressed
• In this way, most of the cells that are likely to
become cancerous are killed before they can do
Caffeine and Sunscreen
• The study points out that, obviously,
decaffeinated coffee does not have the same
• Also, the study reveals that it would take
regularly drinking six cups of coffee a day to
decrease the risk of skin cancer by 30 percent
• “Caffeine itself is a potent sunscreen,” however it
should not replace topical sunscreen used today