An article this week in the Seatle (WA) Post-Intelligencer reports that caffeine "reverses ultraviolet-induced damage and reduces skin cancer". Wow. It's not clear what, if anything, this might mean for people wth lupus or other forms of UV allergy but anything that can defend against UV damage gets a heads-up.
The article by reporter Tom Paulson is about research being done at University of Washington and Rutgers University where the relationship of caffeine to certain cancers has been being tracked for some years. They got started on this track over a decade ago because of earlier epidemiological studies indicating that people who drank tea or coffee had lower rates of some cancers. The initial search was to find which ingredient in the tea was responsible for the apparent reduction in cancers.
Paulson reports that they narrowed it down to caffeine some time ago but have just recently discovered how it works -- by actually causing the repair of UV damaged skin cells. Amazing.
It was suggested by Dr. Paul Nghiem, one of the research leaders at the University of Washington and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, that, "maybe caffeine belongs in sunscreen lotions," For people with lupus everywhere, permit me to say, "duh".
Dr. Allan Conney, who is Nghiem's collaborator in the research is reported to have said that, as far as he knows, "this is the first time anyone has shown that you can inhibit the ultraviolet damage to cells after the damage has been done". Well, this could be huge news for people who must live in constant fear of ultraviolet light and the damage that it can cause.
I hope that they'll take a look at lupus issues with UV too.