How coffee might lower your risk of skin cancer: gut health guru DR. MEGAN ROSSI

Are you the type who gets jittery after the caffeine hit of a single espresso — or do you feel unimpressed no matter how many coffees you line up?

There are several reasons why we all react differently to caffeine. Chief among them is the amount of an enzyme called CYP1A2 in your liver, and that depends on your genes.

People with lower CYP1A2 levels take longer to break down caffeine; You will also feel its stimulating effect more.

But even if you feel like you’re good at “holding” your caffeine, there are good reasons to limit it.

The NHS recommends that adults drink no more than 400mg per day (it’s 200mg for pregnant women).

Are you the type who gets jittery after the caffeine hit of a single espresso — or do you feel unimpressed no matter how many coffees?

Are you the type who gets jittery after the caffeine hit of a single espresso — or do you feel unimpressed no matter how many coffees?

Even if you feel like you can

Even if you feel you can “hold” your caffeine well, there are good reasons to limit it

But since a regular cup of instant coffee contains about 100mg (coffee-to-go can contain three times that), a cup of tea about 55mg, and even a bar of dark chocolate about 80mg per 100g, that can quickly add up.

While we tend to think that caffeine is only found in tea or coffee, it’s found in its pure form in 60 different plants, from kola nuts to cocoa.

Caffeine has some surprising health benefits — for example, it’s been linked to a reduced risk of some types of skin cancer (more on that later) — but of course it’s best known as a stimulant, helping to wake us up and improve our focus.

It has this effect because it blocks the effects of a chemical called adenosine, which is naturally produced in the body, mainly in the liver.

Adenosine binds to receptors located on cells around our body – including nerve cells in the brain, where they play a role in our sleep-wake cycle.

Normally our adenosine levels rise throughout the day and it binds to these receptors. As a result, it slows down nerve cell activity, making us feel sleepy and tired.

But caffeine, which is chemically similar to adenosine, also attaches to these receptors. This blocks the pathway of the sedating adenosine in the brain, causing us to feel perky and alert.

While this can be helpful in the morning, it’s a reason to avoid caffeine later in the day (I personally don’t drink any after lunch). But the best way to reap the stimulating effects is to have your caffeine an hour before you need a mental – or physical – boost.

Caffeine is rapidly absorbed in the gut, and levels peak after about an hour, falling steadily over the next five hours on average.

You can use this “high performance” window to do work that requires extra brain power or to make a workout more bearable.

A review published last year in Nutrients magazine found that caffeine increases endurance in runners and improves their times.

But after drinking caffeine after caffeine, you won’t feel more alert or run faster; Research suggests that a second coffee only wakes you up if you drink it eight hours after your first.

In one study, 49 habitual caffeine drinkers were given coffee or a placebo drink at different times of the day — and asked to repeat mental tasks at 9:00 a.m., 11:00 a.m., 1:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m.

Did you know?

Smells can act like a drug on the brain, activating nerves in the nose that send signals to parts of the brain responsible for functions like heart rate, memory, and stress response. And research has shown that peppermint oil (try fresh peppermint tea) can help increase mental focus.


The results showed that the first coffee of the day (after eight hours of abstinence or more) improved cognition, as did coffee at 5 p.m. (after an eight-hour break from the first) — but those in between had no effect, the journal Psychopharmacology reported in the year 2005.

This may be because caffeine is broken down in the liver, and if you consume anything over 100mg, this process will slow down.

There are other short-term benefits of caffeine. For example, it increases thermogenesis — the rate at which you burn calories to generate heat — thanks to the resulting increase in hormones like epinephrine, which promote fat burning.

These effects don’t last that long — a few hours at best — but it’s enough to make a difference.

A 2007 study in the journal Obesity found that consuming 300 mg of caffeine resulted in about 100 extra calories burned throughout the day. In theory, this would mean that 300mg of caffeine daily could support almost 5kg (about 11lb) of weight per year. However, the reality is less impressive as your body adapts to the thermogenic effects of caffeine over time.

For this reason, caffeine-enriched “metabolism boosting” pills do not lead to long-term weight loss.

One of the more unusual things about caffeine is its association with a reduced risk of skin cancer. Studies have found that caffeine drinkers have fewer basal cell carcinomas (the most common of all skin cancers) and malignant melanoma (the more deadly form).

A 2012 study in the journal Cancer Research found that those who consumed more than three cups of coffee a day had the lowest risk of developing basal cell carcinoma compared to those who only drank coffee occasionally.

We suspect it’s because of the caffeine and not other components, as a review in PLOS One magazine in 2016 found that people who drank coffee had a lower risk of melanoma, but those who stuck to decaffeinated coffee did not .

Separate research has identified a possible mechanism: caffeine helps our body recognize and eliminate damaged skin cells, reducing the risk of cancer.

But while caffeine can claim some impressive benefits, there are downsides as well. One that will surprise anyone who swears they need a caffeine fix to calm them down is that it increases your stress levels. That’s because caffeine increases cortisol levels, a key stress hormone that increases heart rate and blood pressure.

A landmark 1990s study of 25 men who were given a caffeinated drink or a placebo before a stressful task found that the caffeine group’s cortisol levels were twice as high as those given a placebo.

My suggestion is, if you have a job interview or other stressful event coming up, it probably isn’t a good day for multiple coffees.

Caffeine is also a gut stimulant — it boosts the production of the hormone gastrin, which stimulates the muscles in the last part of the colon. If you have sensitive gut, it can lead to diarrhea and abdominal pain.

It can also relax the valve at the bottom of the esophagus, preventing stomach contents from coming back up. So if you have acid reflux, stick to half the daily limit of 400mg.

I wouldn’t want to do away with my morning coffee, but I’ll stick to one — and I’ve started enjoying my dark chocolate after lunch instead of before bed.

TRY THIS: Frothy Cashew Latte

Forget about soaking and straining, this nutty latte uses whole cashews, saving you time and giving you an extra shot of prebiotic fiber to feed your gut microbes in addition to the beneficial compounds in coffee. It’s also deliciously creamy.

serves 1

  • 250ml of hot coffee, brewed to your preferred strength
  • 30 g roasted cashew nuts
  • 1 Medjool date

Place all ingredients in a high power blender and blend for a minute or until smooth. Taste and adjust the flavors to your liking.

In addition to these beneficial compounds in coffee, it's also deliciously creamy

In addition to these beneficial compounds in coffee, it’s also deliciously creamy

Forget about soaking and straining, this nutty latte uses whole cashews

Forget about soaking and straining, this nutty latte uses whole cashews

Top: If you’re feeling indulgent, use salted roasted cashews for a flavor blast. While they do contain a little added salt, that’s pretty much negligible in the grand scheme of a wholesome, plant-rich diet.

ask megan

I’m 57 and over the years of perimenopause – and now menopause – I’ve developed a big belly. This may be genetic as I remember my grandma having a stocky build, but I’d like to know what kind of diet that might change. I don’t eat sweets and only drink a few glasses of wine on the weekends. However, I love whole grain bread and eat quite a lot of pasta.

Tina Sims, via email.

Belly weight gain during perimenopause and menopause is very common — a 2021 study in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism found that women’s mid-menopause weight gain was greater during menopause compared to premenopause.

It is believed that this change in fat distribution is due to a combination of factors, such as: B. hormonal changes and reduced physical activity, which are often attributed to symptoms associated with menopause (such as fatigue) and therefore reduced muscle mass.

Belly weight gain during perimenopause and menopause is very common

Belly weight gain during perimenopause and menopause is very common

To counteract these effects, it can be crucial to maintain muscle mass through regular exercise and to spread protein intake throughout the day (which helps stimulate muscle growth).

It’s also more important to minimize blood sugar spikes, which tend to be more pronounced during menopause and lead to greater fatigue and cravings (I’ll explain more about this in my next column).

One easy way to do this is to eat your high-carb foods (like bread and pasta) with protein, fiber, or healthy fats. For example, eat an egg (protein) and a tomato (fiber) with your bread instead of jam, another carb.

I would also switch your bread to whole wheat sourdough if available as it has been shown to have less of an impact on blood sugar levels.

Contact Megan Rossi

Email or write to Good Health, Daily Mail, 9 Derry Street, London, W8 5HY – please include your contact details. dr Megan Rossi cannot maintain personal correspondence. The answers should be viewed in a general context; Always consult your GP if you have any health concerns How coffee might lower your risk of skin cancer: gut health guru DR. MEGAN ROSSI

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