More Coffee, Less Skin Cancer

Melanoma skin cancer risk was lower in coffee drinkers

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Wear sunscreen, stay inside during the hottest parts of the day and ... refill your cup of coffee? Sure enough, that fourth cup of joe has been tied to lower rates of an aggressive type of skin cancer.

A new study found that people who drank four or more cups of coffee per day had a lower risk of getting melanoma than those who didn’t drink coffee.

The authors of this study concluded that “lifestyle modifications [like drinking more coffee] with even modest protective effects may have a meaningful impact on melanoma.”

Erikka Loftfield, MPH, of the National Cancer Institute, led this study.

Melanoma is the fifth most common form of cancer in the US, Loftfield and team noted. There were around 77,000 new cases of melanoma in 2013.

This study looked at nearly 450,000 people who were cancer-free at the start of the study. These researchers followed up with the patients for an average of 10.5 years and asked about their coffee habits.

Over the course of this study, nearly 3,000 of these patients developed melanoma.

Loftfield and colleagues found that people who drank four or more cups of coffee per day were 20 percent less likely to get melanoma than people who did not drink coffee. Caffeinated coffee — not decaf — was tied to these cancer-protective effects.

Loftfield and team suggested that compounds in coffee, such as caffeine, could play a role in reducing melanoma risk.

Although the best way to protect against skin cancer is to limit exposure to the sun, coffee consumption does seem to offer “modest protective effects,” these researchers wrote.

This study was published Jan. 20 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

The Yale Cancer Center and the National Cancer Institute funded this research. The authors did not disclose any conflicts of interest.


Review Date: 
January 16, 2015
Last Updated:
March 10, 2015