Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Caffeine plus exercise

I am preparing a talk on exercise, and I figure I can't just say "You should," thank the audience, and head for the gym. On perusing articles on exercise and breast cancer (you should do the former to decrease risk of the latter!), I followed one of those delightful internet link trails and came across this interesting study on New Jersey mice (1).

Imagine being offered three choices: two weeks of daily Starbucks plus an obligatory work-up with a personal trainer (both free of course!) that same Starbucks sans gym work-out, or a caffeine-free opportunity to exercise only if you care to but never mind if you don't. These Jersey rodents were assigned the mousy equivalent of these choices, then all underwent tanning sessions under UV lights. Oh yeah, and then followed by skin biopsies...

All lost some of the fat lurking just beneath their furry hides, but the exercise plus caffeine group lost twice as much as the indolent coffee drinkers. Better yet for those buff little fellows that enhanced their exercise-enhanced physique with tans, those who drank caffeine-laced water AND exercised exhibited apoptosis of sun-damaged skin cells. In other words, caffeine inhibited DNA damage from UV light--and therefore tumor formation-- by promoting the destruction of UV-damaged cells.

If we're at all like mice, which we more or less are, caffeine plus exercise may equal some sort of cancer protection.
Yao-Ping, L et al. Voluntary exercise together with oral caffeine markedly stimulates UVB light-induced apoptosis and decreases tissue fat in SKH-1 mice. PNAS July 31, 2007 vol. 104 no. 31 12936-1294.


kenju said...

That's good news! After decades of being caffeine-free, I have added it back into my daily intake - but it small, measured amounts. I did it for increased energy, but the other benefits may be better!

Pissed Off Patient said...

And I just quit caffeine too!

But aren't the weight loss effects of caffeine pretty well established? I had thought so judging by how much caffeine is purportedly added to diet pills.