People who are in the habit of drinking coffee regularly may be protected against malignant melanoma, the fifth most common cancer (and leading cause of skin cancer death) in the United States, according to findings published Jan. 20 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
“We found that four or more cups of coffee per day was associated with about a 20 percent reduced risk of malignant melanoma,” said lead author Erikka Loftfield, a doctoral student at Yale University School of Public Health who is completing her dissertation work at the U.S. National Cancer Institute
Previous research has shown coffee consumption may prevent against non-malignant melanoma. But the latest results suggest it may protect against malignant melanoma, too.
Loftfield and her team used the data collected from 447,357 people who participated in the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study. Each participant was cancer-free at the start of the study, and researchers measured for their coffee consumption, as well as “ambient residential ultraviolent radiation exposure, body mass index, age, sex, physical activity, alcohol intake, and smoking history.”
After a median follow-up of 10 years, 2,904 cases of malignant melanoma developed, plus 1,874 cases of melanoma in situ (early stages) were identified. Compared to non-coffee drinkers, participants who consumed coffee were at an overall lower risk of melanoma.
“We found that as compared with non–coffee drinkers, those who drank the most coffee (four cups per day) had a 20 percent lower risk of malignant melanoma but not of melanoma in situ, which may indicate different disease etiologies or an inhibitory role of coffee consumption in disease progression,” researchers explained. “Statistically significant inverse associations were also found for caffeinated coffee intake and malignant melanoma but not for decaffeinated coffee intake.”
“Our results, and some from other recent studies, should provide reassurance to coffee consumers that drinking coffee is not a risky thing to do,” Loftfield told Live Science in an email. “However, our results do not indicate that individuals should alter their coffee intake”.