Scientists have found that drinking four cups of coffee a day would protect you from malignant melanoma, the leading cause of skin-cancer death.
Although the results are preliminary, lifestyle modifications with even modest protective effects may have a meaningful impact on melanoma morbidity, the researchers said.
While prior research has shown coffee may help prevent other types of non-melanoma skin cancers,the latest study finds coffee may lower the risk for the most serious type of skin cancer, malignant melanoma.
To determine if there is an association between coffee consumption and risk of cutaneous melanoma, Erikka Loftfield from the division of cancer epidemiology and genetics at the US National Cancer Institute used data from the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study.
Researchers analysed data from the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study on more than 447,000 non-Hispanic whites, who are at higher risk of skin cancer, with 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. Overall, the highest coffee intake was inversely associated with a risk of malignant melanoma, with a 20 percent lower risk for those who consumed four cups per day or more.
There was also a trend toward more protection with higher intake, with the protective effect increasing from one cup to four 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 study was published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.