Suncream made from coffee may prevent cancer

Caffeine protects against skin cancer, study finds

Suncream made from coffee, chocolate or tea could one day prevent the most common form of skin cancer.

Researchers from the University of Washington in Seattle have shown that caffeine protects the skin against ultraviolet rays from the sun – and reduces the risk of cells becoming cancerous.

In laboratory tests, caffeine encouraged UV-damaged cells to ‘commit suicide’ but left healthy cells undamaged, the report found.

Skin cancer is the fastest growing form of the disease in the UK. Rates have quadrupled for men, and tripled for women in the past 25 years. Each year 8000 cases of malignant skin cancer – the most dangerous form – are diagnosed, leading to almost 2000 deaths.

Past studies have suggested that drinking plenty of coffee can reduce the risk of skin cancer by one third, while animal tests have shown that caffeine encourages damaged skin cells to self-destruct.

Dr Paul Nghiem, who led the research, said: ‘These data suggest that topical application of caffeine, perhaps in a sunscreen or after-sun preparation, could be investigated as an approach to minimise or reverse the effects of UV damage in human skin.’

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