By Nadine Salmon, MSN, IBCLC, Clinical Content Specialist AMN Healthcare
New research has revealed that the caffeine in coffee may reduce the risk of developing basal cell carcinoma (BCC) by inhibiting tumor progression. Two new surveillance studies were recently conducted, in which more than 110,000 healthcare professionals participated. Using data from these studies, researchers found that participants who drank more than three cups of caffeinated coffee a day had a 17% reduction in their relative risk of BCC, compared with individuals who drank less than one cup per month. Their results were published in the July 1 issue of Cancer Research (Song, Qureshi & Han, 2012).
Using data from the Nurses' Health Study (conducted by the National Institutes of Health) and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study (conducted by Harvard School of Public Health), researchers prospectively examined risks of basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma in relation to caffeine intake. Interestingly, women benefited slightly more than men from drinking three cups a day but in each case, the dose-response relationship was significant when compared with people who rarely drank coffee. The amount of caffeine intake from all dietary sources (including coffee, tea, cola and chocolate), was inversely associated with BCC risk (Song, Qureshi & Han, 2012). Decaffeinated coffee consumption was not associated with a similar decrease in BCC risk. However, caffeine intake was not found to reduce the risk of squamous cell carcinoma or melanoma. The authors are calling for confirmatory studies to validate their findings (Song, Qureshi & Han, 2012).
In the Cancer Research study, coffee consumption was categorized into five groups: (1) Less than 1 cup per month; (2) 1 cup per month to 1 cup per day; (3) 1 to 2 cups per day; (4) 2 to 3 cups per day, and (5) More than 3 cups per day (Song, Qureshi & Han, 2012). The authors admitted that their data on tea consumption was limited in the study; they are currently unable to differentiate between green and black tea, and brewing strength in relation to BCC. Further research in this area is necessary.
The new research adds to a range of recent studies that have shown that coffee may protect against some illnesses, including type II diabetes, heart failure, Parkinson's disease, liver cancer and cirrhosis of the liver (HealthDay, 2012). So sit back and enjoy that second or third cup of coffee today; you may be reducing your risk of developing BCC at the same time!
Colditz,G. A, Manson, J. & Hankinson, S. (1997). The Nurses' Health Study: 20-year contribution to the understanding of health among women. Journal of Women's Health, 6, pp. 49-62.
HealthDay. (2012). Coffee May Cut Your Risk for Common Form of Skin Cancer. Retrieved from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_126844.html
Song, F., Qureshi, A. & Han, J. (2012). Increased Caffeine Intake Is Associated with Reduced Risk of Basal Cell Carcinoma of the Skin. Cancer Research, 72 (13), pp. 3282-3289.
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