This time, researchers found a lower risk of malignant melanoma in older adults with the highest coffee intake. Melanoma is the fifth most common cancer in the U.S. and the deadliest form of skin cancer, but exposure to ultraviolet radiation (UV) and sunburns are the only key risk factors within your control, according to the National Cancer Institute.
The new study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute included nearly 450,000 non-Hispanic white participants. Participants answered questions about their coffee intake and then were followed for an average of 10.5 years to see if they developed a non-invasive melanoma, known as melanoma in situ, or malignant melanoma.
Those with coffee intake of more than 4 cups per day had a 20% lower risk of malignant melanoma compared to non-coffee drinkers. High intake of regular coffee and total caffeine, but not decaffeinated coffee, were also associated with a lower risk of malignant melanoma. There was no link between coffee intake and melanoma in situ.
Coffee drinking was found to lower risk for endometrial cancer in AICR’s latest Continuous Update report. Studies also suggest links between coffee and lower risk of other types of cancer, including colorectal and liver, although the research is not yet conclusive. Coffee is a rich source of antioxidants and phytochemicals that may lower cancer risk, and caffeine itself may play a cancer-protective role.
The study’s authors caution that their results are preliminary and still need to be replicated. Results from some previous studies have found no association.
If you’re not a coffee drinker, you should weigh the risks and benefits of coffee before starting (AICR’s Foods that Fight Cancer can help). Still, this study’s results are promising and may help you enjoy your cup of joe without the guilt.
This work was supported in part by the Yale–National Cancer Institute (NCI) and by the Intramural Research Program of the National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute.