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Jan 22, 2015 12:34 AM EST

Coffee May Reduce Skin Cancer Risk

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Drinking coffee reduces the risk of malignant melanoma, according to a recent study.

Researchers found that coffee consumption has a protective effect against non-melanoma skin cancers. However, the protective effect for cutaneous melanoma (malignant and in situ) is less clear.

For the study, researchers collected data from more than 447,000 men who participated in the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study. The participants completed a self-administered food-frequency questionnaire in 1995/1996, with a median follow-up of 10 years.

All subjects included in the analysis were cancer-free at baseline, and the authors adjusted for ambient residential ultraviolet radiation exposure, body mass index, age, sex, physical activity, alcohol intake, and smoking history.

Overall, the highest coffee intake was inversely associated with a risk of malignant melanoma, with a 20 percent lower risk for those who consumed 4 cups per day or more. There was also a trend toward more protection with higher intake, with the protective effect increasing from 1 or fewer cups to 4 or more. However, the effect was statistically significant for caffeinated but not decaffeinated coffee and only for protection against malignant melanoma but not melanoma in-situ, which may have a different etiology.

The researchers point out that the results are preliminary and may not be applicable to other populations, and therefore additional investigations of coffee intake are needed. However, they conclude that "Because of its high disease burden, lifestyle modifications with even modest protective effects may have a meaningful impact on melanoma morbidity.

The findings are detailed in the JNCI: Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

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