Cappuccino and caffeinated face cream to go! The latest way to jump-start your skin’s cancer-fighting ability.
Is your morning double-double pulling double duty? While several topical creams feature caffeine as the star ingredient because of its powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, there’s evidence that a daily java hit is good for your skin too. According to Dr. Ahmed El-Sohemy, a professor of nutritional sciences at the University of Toronto, caffeine revs up your cells’ natural DNA repair mechanism and, as a result, has a protective effect against skin cancer.
A study that involved 93,676 women in 2007 found that for every cup of coffee consumed, there was a five percent reduced risk of developing nonmelanoma skin cancer compared to women who didn’t drink coffee or drank decaf. “The effect of ingesting caffeine is so small that we don’t recommend changing your habits based on this effect alone,” cautions Dr. Paul Nghiem, a dermatologist at the University of Washington. “Avoiding the sun, wearing sunscreen and seeing your doctor for early detection are still your best strategies.” Nghiem adds that he is studying the use of caffeine in sunscreens because early research on human skin cells indicates that it selectively makes pre-malignant cells more likely to die after exposure to UV rays.
Dr. Melissa Babcock, a dermatologist based in Atlanta and a member of the American Society of Dermatologic Surgery, uses caffeine-containing cream both personally and professionally to combat rosacea. “Often, as we age, our skin creates new superficial blood vessels that dilate, which make our faces red and can lead to rosacea,” she explains. “Caffeine is a vasoconstrictor, so it makes these vessels smaller, resulting in younger-looking skin.”
Research from the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology suggests that eye puffiness and dark circles, which are also caused by dilated blood vessels, can be treated with caffeine-containing products. In a recent study, researchers found that women who applied a caffeinated eye cream twice a day reduced the appearance of eye pouches by up to 28 percent in six weeks.
Babcock adds that caffeine can also help minimize the appearance of wrinkles and improve skin texture because it contains antioxidants that can prevent free radicals from damaging the skin. Caffeine fix? Indeed!
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