If coffee and exercise get you going in the morning, your routine may actually be helping you ward off skin cancer.
The combination was found to help prevent skin cancer and reduce tumor size in mice, according to study results presented at the American Association for Cancer Research’s annual meeting.
“I believe we may extrapolate these findings to humans and anticipate that we would benefit from these combination treatments as well,” said Yao-Ping Lu, Ph.D., associate research professor of chemical biology and director of skin cancer prevention at the Rutgers Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy in Piscataway, N.J.
The study looked at the effects of caffeine and exercise on mice that had a high risk for developing skin cancer. The mice had been exposed to UVB radiation, which is associated with skin cancer risk. The mice were divided into four groups: the control group received water and no exercise wheel; a second group received water mixed with caffeine and no exercise wheel; a third group received water and an exercise wheel; and a fourth group received water mixed with caffeine and an exercise wheel.
After 14 weeks of treatment, the mice that received both caffeine and exercised had 62 percent fewer non-melanoma skin tumors. In addition, the size of the tumors decreased by 85 percent compared to the control group.
The mice that received either caffeine or exercise alone also saw skin cancer prevention benefits, but not as much as the mice who received both caffeine and exercise.
“The mice move more with caffeine. The common mechanism we see is that both [exercise and caffeine] decrease tissue fat. Both moderately prevent skin cancer,” said Lu.
Another set of experiments had the mice on a high-fat diet, and the group with caffeine and exercise again saw the most benefits. The mice lost fat and had as much as a 92 percent drop in inflammation, in addition to less cancer and reduced tumor volume. According to the researchers, the results suggest that fat and tumor growth are related.