Drink Up: Coffee Can Reduce the Risk of Melanoma

The National Institutes of Health and Yale School of Public Health published their findings in the Journal of National Cancer Institute regarding their recent look at how coffee may reduce the risk of melanoma. Coffee has swung back and forth between culprit and cure for the last decade or so, but the latest news gives coffee drinkers the thumbs up once again!

Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer. The researchers set out to find whether coffee drinkers were actually reducing their risk of contracting this type of cancer since the last few years coffee drinkers have been encouraged by other positive news in relation to their health.

The research looked at a little under 500,000 participants that had previously participated in the NIH/ AARP Health and Diet study. The participants were asked to fill out questions that detailed their diets including how much coffee they drank on a regular basis. All of the participants were cancer free at the onset of the study.

Any incidence of melanoma was monitored for over 10 years.

During the study period roughly 2,900 participants were diagnosed with melanoma. Other variables were considered like age, sex, BMI, alcohol use and sun exposure. When all things were considered it was determined that those participants that drank up to 4 cups of coffee each day could reduce the incidence of melanoma by 20%.

According to the article “The team notes the association was only found among participants who consumed caffeinated coffee, not decaffeinated. In addition, coffee only appeared to reduce the risk of malignant melanoma, not melanoma in situ – in which melanoma cells have not spread beyond the outer cells of the skin.”

The study was not able to determine what amount of coffee consumed would reduce the risk. Of course this news is great for coffee drinkers but it does undermine other evidence that drinking “too much” coffee can lead to a host of health concerns.

Erikka Loftfield, the lead researcher on the study commented that “no one is recommending that anyone ups their coffee intake and that limiting sun exposure is still the greatest risk reducer for melanoma.”

What can we take away from this? Most experts agree that 3 cups of coffee a day is fine. Caffeine can cause insomnia so it is wise to limit the intake during the late afternoon hours. Research does support the idea that in moderation coffee can reduce the risk of melanoma and other diseases.


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