A recent study found that, together or alone, caffeine and exercise decrease the risk of skin cancer…in mice, at least. Researchers say the effect is likely related to weight loss. For twenty weeks, researchers exposed mice to low doses of ultraviolet radiation, once a day, five days a week. This simulated the amount of UV radiation people normally get each day. Mice who were given caffeine and allowed to run on a wheel had 62% fewer non-melanoma skin cancers than mice that didn’t consume caffeine or exercise. Tumors in the active, caffeinated mice were also 85% smaller. Caffeine and exercise also separately protected against skin cancer. Caffeine-only mice developed 27% fewer cases of skin cancer, and exercise-only mice had 35% fewer. Their tumors were also reduced, although not as much as in mice that received caffeine and exercised. Researchers suspect that the protective effect is related to weight loss. Mice who were given caffeine and allowed to exercise lost 63% of their fat within two weeks. They also showed a remarkable 92% reduction in inflammation. Excess fat cells in the body can block apoptosis, the body’s way of dealing with damaged cells. This can allow cancers to develop and grow. In addition, obesity and inflammation are both linked to many diseases in humans, such as heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease. Weight loss, then, reduces inflammation and allows the body to clear out broken cells. Before you max out on coffee and work out on the beach, the results of this study are still preliminary and will need to be evaluated in people. In general, though, exercise and a healthy weight are important in preventing obesity-related cancers.
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