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Exercise Plus Coffee May Ward Off Skin Cancer

Posted: July 31, 2007

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Both caffeine and exercise seem to help kill the UVB-damaged cells before malignancy sets in. "We really don't know how that happens," Conney said.

In the study, his team looked at four groups of hairless mice. The rodents' exposed skin is very vulnerable to the sun.

One group was given caffeinated water to drink each day, the equivalent of a person drinking a couple of cups of coffee a day, Conney said. Another group ran voluntarily on a running wheel, the equivalent of a person running two or two and a half miles every day, he said. (These mice will happily go on an exercise wheel if one is available, Conney said.) A third group had both the caffeine and the exercise, while a fourth group had neither and served as the control group.

The mice in all four groups were exposed to lamps that generated UVB radiation that damaged the skin cells' DNA.

While some degree of healthy, programmed skin cell death ("apoptosis") was seen in all four groups of mice, the caffeine drinkers and exercisers were best at killing off the damaged cells, the researchers found.