Drinking coffee and caffeine may greatly reduce the risk of the most common form of skin cancer, according to a report issued yesterday by a group of Harvard-led scientists.
The study suggests that women who drink at least three cups of coffee per day are 20 percent less likely to develop basal cell carcinoma, a slow-growing and the most common form of skin cancer. Men who drink at least three cups are nine percent less likely, while those who intake the most caffeine are at the lowest risk.
The study, presented Monday at an American Association for Cancer Research International Conference, was led by researchers from the Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Harvard Medical School in Boston. It cites the Nurses’ Health Study, which followed more than 70,000 patients between 1984 and 2008, and the Health Professionals Follow Up Study, which tracked nearly 40,000 people between 1986 and 2008, including more than 25,000 skin cancer cases.
“Daily dietary factors with even small protective effects may have great public health impact,” co-author Fengju Song, a postdoctoral fellow in dermatology, said in a statement. “Our study indicates that coffee consumption may be an important option to help prevent basal cell carcinoma.”
Less likely to spread to other organs, basal cell carcinoma is far less deadly but more common then melanoma. The Harvard study comes just months after a Rutgers study that suggested that moderate coffee drinking could be linked to reduced incidence of skin cancer. That study suggested that drinking approximately one cup of coffee per day suppresses a protein enzyme known as ATR, which can lead to cancerous tumors.