I was drinking a cup of decaf tea this morning and stepping through a few outdoor related news items. One hit home. They gave some rats caffeine, had them exercise, and discovered the combo might help prevent skin cancer. In rats, anyway. Article here.
When it comes to caffeine I’m practically a Friend of Bill’s — I love the stuff but have cut back drastically. Nonetheless, my several cups of decaf every day still give me a bit of the elixir. Add a few bites of chocolate to that and I’m probably getting the equivalent to one cup of caffeinated coffee a day, which apparently is similar to the amount given the rats (in caffeinated water they sipped between treadmill bouts). So perhaps I’m covered.
Researchers say that in this case, what happens with rats may likely transfer to humans, and they’re planning studies of such.
Preventing and healing sun damaged skin is a big issue in any outdoors oriented community, be it sailors, golfers or a bunch of skiers. Back when I started as mountaineer in the 1960s, the only choice in sun protection was a hat, along with oily white zinc oxide you’d smear on your face like clown paint. Those with children were most familiar with the stuff since its primary use is as diaper rash preventive. So we marched through the mountains with faces that looked like a bunch of baby butts prepped for wet diapers. It sort of worked, as my dermatologist will tell you.
Most of today’s sunscreen does protect like it’s said to and the SPF rating implies, while others seem to provide much less protection than you’d expect. The higher SPF versions of Banana Boat and Hawaiian Tropic products are what we like best, while we’ve found the worst performance in products that claim to sunscreen as well as something like “skin care” or “skin moisturizers.” Watch out for those and test before depending on them.
Another thing I’ve learned over the years is that once you commit to preserving your skin, especially your face/neck/head, those with fair skin are not going to develop much of a protective tan. Thus, if you go with sunscreen and hat as skin protection, both have to be used religiously. (Also, as you get older you’ll want to spend more time in long sleeved shirts and long pants.)
As for exercise and caffeine possibly helping prevent skin cancer, that is indeed excellent news. But if you’re not protecting your skin, any protective effect from the workouts will no doubt be cancelled out. Ditto for the possible benefits of caffeine consumption.
WildSnow.com publisher emeritus and founder Lou (Louis Dawson) has a 50+ years career in climbing, backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. He was the first person in history to ski down all 54 Colorado 14,000-foot peaks, has authored numerous books about about backcountry skiing, and has skied from the summit of Denali in Alaska, North America’s highest mountain. For more about Lou, please see his personal website at https://www.loudawson.com/ (Blogger stats: 5 foot 10 inches (178 cm) tall, 160 lbs (72574.8 grams).