The Benefits Of Drinking Coffee On Common Skin Cancers
A recent study is the first large research to examine the benefits of drinking coffee on three varieties of skin cancer – finding that women who consume over 3 cups of coffee a day showed a 20% lesser risk of having basal cell carcinoma (BCC), and men a 9% lower risk compared to those who did not have at least one cup of coffee per month. Drinking decaffeinated coffee didn’t have the same effect on the chances of basal cell cancers, the most common form of skin cancer, accounting for nearly 90% of all skin cancers, leaving researchers to speculate that caffeine is the important ingredient in terms of cancer.
As the most common form of human cancer, over one million new incidences of skin cancer are diagnosed each year. Rates of all three types, basal cell, squamous cell and the most dangerous, melanoma, have been going up each year. The most common warning of skin cancer’s approach is a change in the look of your skin (a new growth or sore that won’t heal).
Earlier research has suggested that coffee drinking might offer some protection for non-melanoma skin cancer, however the results haven’t been consistent, and have mostly come in animals or from studies in labs.
This most recent research involved examining the effects of drinking coffee on skin cancer risk for over 110,000 subjects who took part in two large studies.
The subjects were followed for 22-24 years, on average. During that time, just over 25,000 cases of cancer of the skin occurred. These included all three types – nearly 21,000 basal cell carcinomas, just under 2,000 squamous cell carcinomas, with 740 of the more serious melanomas.
The team saw that the more caffeinated coffee a subject drank, the lower their risk for basal cell carcinomas, but not the other two types.
Some researchers believe that caffeine is likely to have some protective effect as the risk of developing cancer of the skin was inversely (went down when another measure went up) related to coffee drinking.
It’s hard to say why coffee might help with one type of cancer but not others. It may be that the biology of the different skin cancers is a factor. Caffeine seems to help stop skin cancer through killing off the small numbers of precancerous cells, which have been damaged by the sun and are currently dividing. They need to be removed from the body, before they get chance to do any harm, and caffeine appears to do this.
Beyond coffee and tea, other rich sources of caffeine are kola nuts and cocoa beans, and caffeine can also be found in some over the counter pain medications, cold remedies and diet pills. Interesting that caffeine is known to be a mild painkiller and increases the effectiveness of other such medications.
Of course there are many steps you can take, far more effective than relying on the benefits of drinking coffee to impact your risk of this most common form of skin cancer. If you’re fair skinned, seeing a dermatologist regularly, and having suspicious growths removed before they cause trouble is key. As is avoiding a bad sunburn at any age in life. If you live in an area that gets high levels of UV radiation, you’re also more at risk, and should take care to cover up and seek shade when out in the sun, especially during peak hours. Researchers are also looking at the effects of drinking coffee and then going out in the sun. There are also investigations underway about adding caffeine to sunscreen to make it that much more effective against skin cancer.