The headlines say it all really. According to reports across the world this week, “Drinking Coffee Linked to Lower Melanoma Risk.” A new study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute has found that drinking coffee could reduce the risk of developing melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, by as much as 20 percent.
“Researchers from the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health and the Yale School of Public Health found that the more coffee people drank, the lower their melanoma risk,” wrote the LA Times in an article published on January 21, 2015. “The participants completed a food frequency questionnaire at the beginning of the study, including their coffee intake. Then the incidence of melanoma among subjects was tracked over an average of 10.5 years,” the article continued. “The researchers found that the more coffee participants drank each day, the less likely they were to develop melanoma. Drinking four cups a day was associated with a 20% lower risk.”
According to the study, the bioactive compounds contained in coffee help to suppress UVB-induced skin cancer by protecting against oxidative stress and DNA damage in cells, and by reducing the inflammation in epidermal cells. And caffeine, the researchers noted, taken both orally and applied topically, has been shown to absorb ultraviolet radiation, which means it is essentially “functioning as a sunscreen.”
While researchers call this a “modest” decrease in melanoma risk — and emphasize that the best protection against skin cancer is still reducing sun and UV radiation exposure — this is still amazing news for coffee lovers worldwide! It also adds to the numerous other health benefits that have been associated with coffee consumption, which include a lower risk of death from several kinds of cancer, reduced risk of liver disease, lower risk of type 2 diabetes, a reduced risk of tinnitus and a lower overall risk of death.
Sadly, there’s no word yet from researchers about the potential health benefits of adding a donut to the mix!