Drinking a cup of coffee may reduce your risk of developing basal cell carcinoma according to a new study published in the July 2 edition of Cancer Research. Basal cell carcinoma is a slow-growing skin cancer, most likely to develop on areas of the body most exposed to the sun’s UV rays, although when left untreated it can spread to other areas. It is the most common form of skin cancer.
The most recent study, completed at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard School of Public Health, followed 113,000 people for 20 years. During the study, 22,800 of the participants developed basal cell carcinoma. It found that those who drank 3 or more cups of coffee per day had a significantly lower risk of developing this type of cancer. Other types of skin cancer did not show a reduced risk.
According to the study:
- Women had a 17 percent lower risk
- Men had a 13 percent lower risk
Decaffeinated coffee did show the same results, however, other types of foods and beverages containing caffeine, such as tea, cola and chocolate also showed a decreased risk leading researchers to believe it is the caffeine that protects the body from this type of cancer. In an article on ABCNews, Dr. Josh Zeichner explains that “Caffeine may help the body kill off damaged skin cells. If you get rid of these cells that are damaged, then they don’t have the opportunity to grow and form cancers.”
Previous studies have shown that coffee has been associated with a decreased risk of developing other diseases as well, for example diabetes and Parkinson’s disease. Another recent study showed 2 cups of coffee per day may help to protect against heart failure. However, this study also found that those who drank more than 4 or 5 cups of coffee were more likely to have heart disease. Even so, researchers point out that drinking coffee should not be your first line of prevention; taking precautions such as using sunscreen, staying in the shade, wearing long sleeves and wide-brimmed hats is still the best measure to protect your skin from the harmful rays of the sun.
The results from this study are interesting and may lead to better understanding how we can help to prevent skin cancer, however, the study showed an association between caffeine and cancer but did not provide a definitive link between the two. Further studies will need to be done to see if the results are the same before scientists definitively link consuming caffeine with decreasing your risk of developing skin cancer.
“Caffeine Linked to Lower Skin Cancer Risk,” 2012, July 2, Katie Moisse, ABCNews.go.com
“Increased caffeine Intake Is Associated with Reduced Risk of Basal Cell Carcinoma of the Skin,” 2012, July, 2, Fengju Song, Abrar A. Qureshi, Jiali Han, Cancer Research
“Three Daily Cups of Caffeinated Coffee Tied to 17% Drop in Risk for Common Skin Cancer,” 2012, July 3, Staff Writer, CBSNews.com