Coffee Drinkers May Have Extra Protection from the Sun

by Eileen Bailey Health Writer

Americans spend between 30 and 32 billion dollars a year on coffee, according to the Specialty Coffee Association of America. While that might seem like a lot, coffee might offer some protection against malignant melanoma, according to a study published in January, 2015 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (JNCI). The study found that non-Hispanic adults who drink four or more cups of coffee per day have a 20 percent lower risk of developing malignant melanoma.

The researchers looked at data from the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study, which included information on more than 447,000 non-Hispanic whites. Participants completed questionnaires about eating habits, including their daily coffee consumption. Follow-ups were done about 10 years after the original questionnaires were completed. While previous studies have looked at coffee consumption in relationship to other forms of skin cancer and other diseases, this is the first large-scale study which specifically looked at a possible relationship between coffee and malignant melanoma.

Some of the studies results include:

  • The risk of developing malignant melanoma decreased as coffee consumption increased. For those who drank four or more cups of coffee per day, as compared to non-coffee drinkers, there was a 20 percent decrease in the risk of developing malignant melanoma.

  • The researchers did not find the decrease for melanoma in situ, which is cancer that remains in the outer layers of the skin, or the epidermis - Stage 0 skin cancer.

  • A decrease in cancer rates was found in those who drank caffeinated coffee, but not in those who drank decaffeinated coffee.

The researchers noted that this possible association was present, even after adjusting for other risk factors, such as previous sunburns, boss mass index, age, gender, alcohol consumption and smoking. They also took into consideration that self-reporting of coffee consumption might not be accurate and looked at a subgroup who completed 24-hour dietary recalls and found the same decrease in risk of developing malignant melanoma.

Should You Start Drinking Lots of Coffee?

The scientists point out that their research is promising, it is preliminary and previous research has shown inconsistent results. They state, "Additional investigations of coffee intake and its constituents, particularly caffeine, in the prevention of melanoma are warranted."

There are, however, some health benefits of coffee. A study completed using information from the Nurses Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study found a decreased risk of basal cell carcinoma. According to the Mayo Clinic, coffee can also protect against Parkinson's disease, type 2 diabetes and liver disease, including liver cancer.

Some people should not consume caffeinated beverages. If you have questions about whether coffee can benefit your health, you should talk with your doctor about both the benefits and the risks of drinking coffee or other caffeinated beverages.

Eileen Bailey
Meet Our Writer
Eileen Bailey

Eileen Bailey is an award-winning author of six books on health and parenting topics and freelance writer specializing in health topics including ADHD, Anxiety, Sexual Health, Skin Care, Psoriasis and Skin Cancer. Her wish is to provide readers with relevant and practical information on health conditions to help them make informed decisions regarding their health care.