Caffeine, exercise help fight skin cancer

New Delhi: Caffeine consumption coupled with some exercises may be able to ward off skin cancer caused by sun exposure and also prevent inflammation related to other obesity-linked cancers, suggests a new study.

"We found that this combination treatment can decrease sunlight-caused skin cancer formation in a mouse model," 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.

"I believe we may extrapolate these findings to humans and anticipate that we would benefit from these combination treatments as well," Lu added.

The researchers evaluated the effects of caffeine and exercise on mice at high risk for developing skin cancer. Results showed that mice that took a dose of caffeine and exercised with a running wheel experienced 62 per cent fewer skin tumours. The volume of tumours also decreased by 85 per cent compared with the mice that did not consume caffeine or exercise.

Positive effects were found with either caffeine or exercise alone, but to a lesser extent. Researchers observed a 27 per cent reduction in tumours in caffeine-only mice and a 61 per cent reduction in tumour size. In the exercise-only mice, researchers found that tumour activity decreased by 35 percent and tumour volume decreased by 70 per cent.

The researchers also found that exercise and caffeine reduced weight and inflammation. They fed mice a high-fat diet of omega-6 fatty acid-rich foods and measured the volume of the parametrial fat pad (the largest fat pad in a mouse) after two weeks of exercise and/or caffeine treatment.

Mice that had caffeine and exercised had a fat pad weight decrease of 63 per cent. Caffeine-only mice had a 30 per cent decrease, and exercise-only mice had a 56 per cent decrease. Development and size of cancer decreased as well.

The link, Lu believes, is inflammation, which dropped as much as 92 per cent in mice that exercised and consumed caffeine.

Lu presented the findings at the AACR Annual Meeting 2012, held March 31 - April 4.

Army of gut microbes keep us fit and healthy

Washington: An army of gut micro-organisms, comprising some 500 to 1,000 distinct bacterial species and uncountable billions, keep us both fit and healthy with proper body weight, a study says.

Rosa Krajmalnik-Brown and colleagues of Arizona State University`s Biodesign Institute with John DiBaise from the Mayo clinic`s gastroenterology division, reviewed the role of gut microbes in nutrient absorption and energy regulation.

"Malnutrition may manifest as either obesity or under-nutrition, problems of epidemic proportion worldwide," said Krajmalnik-Brown, the journal Nutrition in Clinical Practice reports.

"Micro-organisms have been shown to play an important role in nutrient and energy extraction and energy regulation although the specific roles that individual and groups of gut microbes play remain uncertain," added Krajmalnik-Brown, according to a Arizona statement.

The study outlines the growth of varied microbial populations - from birth onwards - highlighting their role in extracting energy from the diet.

Based on current findings, the authors suggest that therapeutic modification of the gut microbiome may offer a much better option to treat nutrition-related maladies, including obesity and a range of health outcomes.

The microbes in our gut belong to three broad domains: Eukarya, Bacteria, and Achaea. Of these, bacteria reign supreme, with two dominant divisions - known as Bacteroidetes and Firmicutes - making up over 90 percent of the gut`s microbial population.

Conversely, the Achaea that exist in the gut are mostly composed of methanogens (producers of methane) and specifically by Methanobrevibacter smithii - a hydrogen-consumer. Methanogens appear in greater abundance in obese as opposed to normal weight individuals.