Researchers have claimed that a cup of coffee a day can help keep skin cancer at bay. A new report found that increasing the number of cups of caffeinated coffee you drink could lower your risk of developing the most common form of skin cancer, basal cell carcinoma.
The breakthrough finding was announced by doctors at the prestigious Brigham and Women's Hospital in the United States, where researchers analyzed two major data studies on male and female health going back a decade.
'Our data indicate that the more caffeinated coffee you consume, the lower your risk of developing basal cell carcinoma. 'I would not recommend increasing your coffee intake based on these data alone,â€™ said one of the hospitalâ€™s associate professors, Doctor Jiali Han.
'However, our results add basal cell carcinoma to a list of conditions for which risk is decreased with increasing coffee consumption. This list includes conditions with serious negative health consequences such as type 2 diabetes and Parkinson's disease.'
Despite the fact that basal cell carcinoma is a slow-growing form of cancer, it is painful and places a burden on hospitals. For instance,there are an estimated 80,000 new cases in the UK every year. So dietary changes that can help avoid cancer are hugely welcome news.
'Given the large number of newly diagnosed cases, daily dietary changes having any protective effect may have an impact on public health,â€™ Dr Han said.
Han and his colleagues analysed data from two major studies: the Nurses' Health Study, a large investigation of factors influencing women's health, and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study, a study of men, both of which have been running for twenty years.
Of the 112,897 participants, 22,786 developed basal cell carcinoma during the more than 20 years of the two studies. An inverse association wasobserved between all coffee consumption and risk of basal cell carcinoma. The same thing was seen when the analysis looked at caffeine derived from coffee, tea, cola and chocolate - and risk of basal cell carcinoma. Interestingly, however, drinking decaffeinated coffee was not associated with a decreased risk of basal cell carcinoma.
Dr Han said: 'These results really suggest that it is the caffeine in coffee that is responsible for the decreased risk of basal cell carcinoma associated with increasing coffee consumption. This would be consistent with published mouse data, which indicate caffeine can block skin tumour formation. However, more studies in different population cohorts and additional mechanistic studies will be needed before we can say this definitively.'