Drinking coffee lowers risk of most common skin cancer
There are an estimated 80,000 new cases of basal cell carcinoma in UK every yearOutlook is generally good as the cancer spreads to other parts of the body in just 0.5% cases
08:19 GMT, 2 July 2012
A cup of coffee a day can help keep skin cancer at bay, according to a new study.
Researchers found increasing the number of cups of caffeinated coffee you drink could lower your risk of developing the most common form of skin cancer, basal cell carcinoma.
Doctor Jiali Han, associate professor at Brigham and Women's Hospital in the United States, said: 'Our data indicate that the more caffeinated coffee you consume, the lower your risk of developing basal cell carcinoma.
Study suggests caffeine in coffee decreases risk of basal cell carcinoma
'I would not recommend increasing your coffee intake based on these data alone.
'However, our results add basal cell carcinoma to a list of conditions for which risk is decreased with increasing coffee consumption. This list includes conditions with serious negative health consequences such as type 2 diabetes and Parkinson's disease.'
Even though basal cell carcinoma is slow-growing, it causes considerable illness and places a burden on health care systems.
There are an estimated 80,000 new cases in the UK every year.
Dr Han said: 'Given the large number of newly diagnosed cases, daily dietary changes having any protective effect may have an impact on public health.'
Dr Han and his colleagues analysed data from the Nurses' Health Study, a large and long-running study to aid in the investigation of factors influencing women's health, and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study, a study of men.
Of the 112,897 participants included in the analyses, 22,786 developed basal cell carcinoma during the more than 20 years of the two studies. An inverse association was observed between all coffee consumption and risk of basal cell carcinoma.
Similarly, an inverse association was seen between intake of caffeine from all dietary sources – coffee, tea, cola and chocolate – and risk of basal cell carcinoma.
However, consumption of decaffeinated coffee was not associated with a decreased risk of basal cell carcinoma.
Dr Han said: 'These results really suggest that it is the caffeine in coffee that is responsible for the decreased risk of basal cell carcinoma associated with increasing coffee consumption.
'This would be consistent with published mouse data, which indicate caffeine can block skin tumour formation.
'However, more studies in different population cohorts and additional mechanistic studies will be needed before we can say this definitively.'
In contrast to the findings for basal cell carcinoma, neither coffee consumption nor caffeine intake were inversely associated with the two other forms of skin cancer, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma, the most deadly form of the disease.
Only 1,953 cases of squamous cell carcinoma and 741 cases of melanoma were recorded among the 112,897 participants included in Han's analyses.
Dr Han added: 'It is possible that these numbers are insufficient for any association with coffee consumption to be seen.
'As the study participants are followed for a longer time, the number of cases of these conditions is likely to increase. We may be in a position in 10 years' time to better address this issue.'
The findings were published in the journal Cancer Research.