Could drinking coffee reduce your risk for melanoma?

The media is constantly telling us what’s good for us or what we need to cut, and sometimes those can end up being the same things. So whether you love your coffee or hate it, here’s another thing to add to that list of speculation: drinking coffee may reduce your risk of melanoma.

In a study done by Erikka Loftfield, a doctoral student at the Yale School of Public Health and a fellow at the National Cancer Institute as well as other medical researchers, the health of U.S. individuals was tracked over 10 years. One thing they all had in common: they were all cancer-free at the beginning of the study. According to their findings:

We found that four or more cups of coffee per day was associated with about a 20 percent reduced risk of malignant melanoma. – Erikka Loftfield

The researchers speculate that potential biological mechanisms may explain a potentially true association. They hypothesize that bioactive compounds in coffee such as polyphenols, diterpenes, trigonelline, and caffeine may provide a protective effect against ultraviolet damage, however more research must be done to be able to fully explain whether this is plausible.

However, it still remains unclear whether there’s other aspects associated with behaviors of coffee drinkers that may make them less susceptible to malignant melanoma. For instance, it may be that coffee-drinkers work indoors more, meaning that people who don’t may spend more time outdoors and be at an increased risk for melanoma. Personally, it’s the first time I’ve seen this association discussed, and I’m not entirely convinced – there’s too many factors at play. I look forward to seeing if more substantial evidence emerges, but in the meantime – keep getting your skin exams annually and wear your Likewise Moisturizing Defense daily! Four coffees a day may not always keep melanoma away.

Reference: Loftfield E, Freedman ND, Graubard BI, et al. Coffee drinking and cutaneous melanoma risk in the NIH-AARP diet and health study. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2015;107(2):dju421.

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