Can Three Cups of Coffee a Day Reduce your Risk of Skin Cancer?


The answer is yes – According to data from a recent study, the caffeine contained in your coffee may have the ability to reduce your chance of developing basal cell carcinoma (BCC), one of the fastest growing skin cancers accounting for nearly 80% of all newly diagnosed skin cancers per year. Basal cell carcinomas develop on the head and neck, (nose and ears) common areas for sun exposure. They are generally slow growing and can locally destroy healthy tissue, but have a low potential for systemic spread or metastasis.As early as 1986, it was reported that coffee consumption decreased the risk of developing non-melanoma skin cancer. Unfortunately, investigators never differentiated between caffeinated or decaffeinated products and whether it was compounds in coffee other than caffeine which had effects on risk of developing skin cancer.

In the current study, participants who drank more than 3 cups of regular coffee per day had a 17 % reduction in their risk of developing BCC compared with those who drank less than 1 cup per month. Coffee consumption was studied among 5 groups: Less than 1 cup per month, 1 cup per month to 1 cup per day, 1-2 cups per day, 2-3 cups per day and greater than 3 cups per day. The prospective study of 110,000 healthcare professionals included up to 24 years of follow up. Additional studies will likely be necessary to validate the findings of this study.

Women seemed to benefit slightly more than men from drinking 3 cups a day when compared with those participants who rarely drank coffee. Drinking tea or cola or eating chocolate was also associated with a protective effect against BCC. Drinking decaffeinated coffee, however, was not associated with a a reduction in BCC risk. There was also no relationship between consumption of regular coffee and other caffeine products and development of squamous cell carcinoma or melanoma, which are considered more aggressive types of skin cancer.

In this study, coffee was associated with about 78% of all caffeine consumption. The risk of developing BCC was also reduced with consumption of alternative sources of caffeine. (tea, cola, and chocolate).

As always, it is advisable to stay out of the sun between 10 am and 4 pm when the sun’s rays are the strongest and wear protective sunscreen (at least SPF 30). It is also important to apply sunscreen before you go outside in the sun, and wear a hat and polarized sunglasses to protect your head, face, and eyes.

And most importantly, enjoy your coffee!

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