Well here’s some good news for you!
A study published in 2012 showed that those who drank 3 or more cups of coffee reduced their risk of basal cell carcinoma (a non-deadly yet common skin cancer) by 17%.
And a more recently published study has shown that those who drank 4 or more cups of coffee a day showed a 20% reduced risk for melanoma.
Why is this important? Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer, and the fifth most common form of cancer in the United States and the most common form of cancer for young adults 25-29 years old. It is estimated that almost 74,000 people will be diagnosed with melanoma in 2015 in the US alone.
Researchers hypothesize that the bioactive compounds contained within coffee such as caffeine (since no significant results were shown with decaf) and polyphenols, may be what is providing the protective effect against UV damage.
Does that mean we should head to the beach to lounge for hours on end with a cup of joe in hand? Probably not.
Researchers cannot recommend increasing coffee consumption at this time. They are simply stating it doesn’t hurt to have that cup of coffee and it may, in fact, help. So if you’re already a regular coffee drinker, drink on.
Additional investigations are still needed on the subject, and none of the research says coffee alone will prevent skin cancer— just reduce the risk. It is still best to minimize skin exposure, wear hats and UV protective clothing, seek shade, and use a mineral based sunscreen with minimal chemicals if you’re planning to be in the sun for extended periods of time.
Fenju Song, Abrar A. Qureshi, Jiali Han. Increased Caffeine Intake Is Associated with Reduced Risk of Basal Cell Carcinoma of Skin. Cancer Research. (July 1, 2012) 72; 3282
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