A new coffee study is showing us yet another health benefit of being a regular brew-drinker.
Researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School have found that there seems to be a relationship between increased coffee intake (meaning the more, the better) and decreased risk of basal cell carcinoma — the most common skin cancer.
But researchers cautioned that if you aren’t an avid coffee drinker already, this study shouldn’t convince you to try to increase your coffee intake for the sake of protecting against skin cancer.
“However, our results add basal cell carcinoma to a list of conditions for which risk is decreased with increasing coffee consumption,” study researcher Jiali Han, Ph.D., an associate professor at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School in Boston and Harvard School of Public Health, said in a statement. “This list includes conditions with serious negative health consequences such as Type 2 diabetes and Parkinson’s disease.”
This year in the United States, there are expected to be more than 2,000,000 new cases of nonmelanoma skin cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute.
The Cancer Research study included analysis of 112,897 people who were in the Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study. Over a 20-year period, 22,786 people developed basal cell carcinoma.
Researchers not only found a link between increased coffee consumption and decreased skin cancer risk — for example, women who drank three or more cups of coffee a day had a lower risk of skin cancer than people who drank less than a cup of coffee a month — but also a link between overall increased caffeine consumption (like from coffee, soda, chocolate and tea) and decreased skin cancer risk. Meanwhile, there was no link between decaffeinated coffee consumption and risk of the skin cancer.
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In addition, there was no link was identified between increased coffee or caffeine consumption and squamous cell carcinoma or melanoma, which are two other kinds of skin cancer.
“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,” Han said in the statement. “This would be consistent with published mouse data, which indicate caffeine can block skin tumor formation. However, more studies in different population cohorts and additional mechanistic studies will be needed before we can say this definitively.”
However, there is such a thing as too much caffeine. The Mayo Clinic says that consuming heavy amounts of caffeine each day (500 to 600 milligrams a day, or more) can lead to muscle tremors, insomnia, irritability, restlessness and even upset stomach. But the Mayo Clinic did note that getting about 200 to 300 milligrams of caffeine per day — that which is in about four cups of coffee — for adults is not a detriment to health.
Recently, a study of about 200,000 people in the journal CANCER showed that there may be a link between taking anti-inflammatory drugs and skin cancer risk.
Researchers from the Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark found that people in the study with more than two NSAID prescriptions had a 15 percent lower risk for squamous cell carcinoma, a kind of skin cancer, as well as a 13 percent lower risk for malignant melanoma, a deadly form of the cancer. This is compared with people who only filled two or fewer NSAID prescriptions.
The decreased skin cancer risk was especially pronounced when the people took them for at least seven years, and with “high-intensity use,” researchers said in the study.