How to protect against skin cancer: drink coffee, tan in the morning

How to protect against skin cancer: drink coffee, tan in the morning

Latest research suggests a few cups a day and morning rays are the safest option
Looks like the afternoon: I hope this lady drank her coffee this morning (and is wearing good sunscreen).

Australia's beach culture sees one of the highest skin cancer rates in the world: nearly 2,000 die of the disease here annually, which is no laughing matter.

That’s not to say Aussies don’t laugh about it. Sayings such as, “I’m going to the beach to work on my melanoma,” have found their way into the local vernacular.

And that's in spite of the Cancer Council drumming, “Slip on a shirt, slop on some sunscreen and slap on a hat,” into locals for years.

The message remains pertinent. But some new advice has also emerged in the constant battle against the sun: drink coffee, and tan in the morning.

Double espresso, thanks

Coffee drinkers guilty about their addiction could feel more justified in ordering that cappuccino this summer.

Women with three-cup habits were 20 percent less likely to develop the most common form of skin cancer (which doesn't include melanoma), according to researchers at the Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, in the United States.

For men, three cups would make them 9 percent less likely to develop the common cancer, reports the Herald-Sun.

So you may as well drink that coffee this summer.

And have another cuppa undercover this arvo

High risk of cancer from sun exposure is also highest in the afternoon, more research suggests.

It's not because less coffee is drunk then. It has much more to do with our circadian rhythms -- an in-built, 24-hour cycle present in living things.

For humans, this cycle appears to be better equipped to fight the sun's harmful rays in the morning. Why? Because what repairs our skin after sun damage (XPA protein) is five times more present in the morning.

"Our research would suggest that restricting sunbathing or visits to the tanning booth to morning hours would reduce the risk of skin cancer in humans," said Dr. Aziz Sancar, of the University of North Carolina, who conducted the initial experiment on mice.

What about green tea, asparagus and Brussels sprouts?

"We have to be very careful when we change our messages,” Professor Ian Olver, chief executive of the Cancer Council, told ABC.

He said it was also important to consider the strength of ultraviolet rays –- not only our body’s ability to repair damage.

Research indicates rays between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. are most harmful, but early morning and afternoon light could do more damage than previously thought, he said.

"In general, in summer it's worth covering up for most of the day."

Travelers are urged to go the Cancer Council’s website for practical advice to protect themselves against the sun this summer. It includes wearing clothes and sunglasses, using sunscreen that is cosmetic-friendly and installing tinted windows on your car.