Bracing against the wind  

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Caffeine, Cancer and Gray Hair

We're exposed to DNA damaging, age-accelerating radiation every day. And caffeine might make it worse... or better. (Click on links for references).

Caffeine can accelerate the division of cells, speeding up repair, but also it appears to inhibit the activation of "ATM", a gene responsible for DNA repair. This makes cells more "radiosensitive" ... in other words, more likely to have damaging mutations.

Caffeine is fully absorbed about 45 minutes after drinking coffee. However, it stays in the body for up to 10 hours (5-10 hours for most of us, but 10-20 or more hours for people over 55, women who are pregnant, children and women taking hormone (oral/patch/etc) contraceptives).

So how does this add up? Basically, it means, don't drink coffee up to 10 hours before you go out in the sun for any extended period of time... unless you want your hair to prematurely gray. (Graying hair, and overall aging, has been directly linked to DNA damage and the mediation of this damage by pathways such as those involving ATM kinase.)

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