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Caffeine lowers the risk of skin cancer

A new Rutgers study has provided more evidence that caffeine lowers the risk of skin cancer.

The study has strengthened the theory that caffeine guards against certain skin cancers at the molecular level by inhibiting a protein enzyme in the skin, known as ATR. Scientists believed that based on what they have learned by studying mice, caffeine applied directly to the skin might help prevent damaging UV light from causing skin cancer.

Prior research indicated that mice that were fed caffeinated water and exposed to lamps that generated UVB radiation that damaged the DNA in their skin cells were able to kill off a greater percentage of their badly damaged cells and reduce the risk of cells becoming cancerous. “Although it is known that coffee drinking is associated with a decreased risk of non-melanoma skin cancer, there now needs to be studies to determine whether topical caffeine inhibits sunlight-induced skin cancer,” said
Allan Conney, director of the Susan Lehman Cullman Laboratory for Cancer Research.

Instead of inhibiting ATR with caffeinated water, Rutgers researchers, in collaboration with researchers from the University of Washington, genetically modified and diminished ATR in one group of mice. They found that the genetically modified mice developed tumours more slowly than the unmodified mice, had 69 per cent fewer tumours than regular mice and developed four times fewer invasive tumours.

Compound in green tea can cure two types of tumours

The research was led by Principal Investigator, Thomas Smith at The Donald Danforth Plant Science Center and his colleagues at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

 Glutamate dehydrogenase (GDH) is found in all living organisms and is responsible for the digestion of amino acids. In animals, a complex network of metabolites controls GDH.

For decades it was not clear why animals required such regulation but other kingdoms did not.  

This was partially answered by the Stanley group’s finding that a deadly congenital disease, hyperinsulinism/hyperammonemia (HHS), is caused by the loss of some of this regulation.

In this disorder, patients (typically children) respond to the consumption of protein by over secreting insulin, becoming severely hypoglycemic, often leading to death.  

Using atomic structures to understand the differences between animals and plants, Dr. Smith and his colleagues discovered that two compounds found naturally in green tea are able to compensate for this genetic disorder by turning off GDH in isolated and when the green tea compounds were administered orally.

The Smith lab also used X-ray crystallography to determine the atomic structure of these green tea compounds bound to the enzyme. With this atomic information, they hope to be able to modify these natural compounds to design and develop better drugs.

Each hour of TV viewing reduces life span by 22mins

A study has found that watching TV might be as bad for your health as smoking or obesity, as each hour of TV viewing after the age of 25 may cut your life span by almost 22 minutes.

“If our estimates are correct, then TV viewing is in the same league as smoking and obesity,” ABC Science quoted Dr Lennert Veerman, from the School of Population Health at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, as saying.

An Australian study by Professor David Dunstan of the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute in Melbourne, and colleagues, last year found that if someone watches TV for an hour everyday, he/she is led to an 8 percent higher risk of premature death, especially from cardiovascular diseases.

 “We’ve taken that study and translated it into what it means for life expectancy in Australia given how much TV we view,” said Veerman.

“Given that Australians watch on average around two hours of TV a day, that would reduce life expectancy at birth by 1 year 8 months for men and about 1 year 5 months for women,” he added.

Veerman also revealed that the small proportion of people who watch six hours of television a day might end up reducing their lifespan by 4.8 years.

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