Caffeine protects mice from skin cancer when it’s rubbed onto their skin, and if you find yourself on a beach without sunscreen, it may do the same for you. The results were almost as good using green tea. Scientists have also found that mice were almost as protected when they drank the coffee instead. Researcher Allan Conney thinks it may be better for people to use a lotion with caffeine in it because “It may not be possible for humans to swallow enough without side-effects.”

But he wants to do more studies before he recommends that sunbathers start smearing themselves with coffee. “It’s unknown whether rubbing it on your skin would do any good,” he says. “I’d worry about the general population doing this at the moment without further studies to evaluate safety and efficacy.”

Meanwhile, German researchers have found traces of the substance acrylamide, which may cause cancer, in coffee. They found the chemical in all 24 brands of ground coffee and seven brands of espresso they tested. “It was known that there is acrylamide in coffee beans,” says researcher Hella Hansen. “We wanted to know how much of it gets into a cup of coffee.” Acrylamide is also found in french fries, potato chips, and other fried or baked carbohydrate-rich foods.

According to the American Cancer Society, “The vast majority of studies agree that coffee has not been shown conclusively to have a link to bladder, breast, lung, pancreatic, prostate or any other cancers.” Studies have shown that coffee may actually prevent DNA damage.

Winfried Tigges, of the German coffee federation, says acrylamide isn?t present in raw coffee beans, but is formed when they?re roasted. He says, “It is an issue for us. It is not clear at the moment whether acrylamide is dangerous for people, but if it is we want to get it out of coffee.”

In the future, we may be able to buy coffee in regular, decaf or non-acrylamide versions. And if you forget to pack your sunscreen, head for the nearest coffee shop.

While driving to the beach, keep an eye out for crop circles in the fields?they?re turning up everywhere. Learn the facts about these circles from a scientist by reading ?The Deepening Complexity of Crop Circles? by Eltjo Haselhoff, click here.

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