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Caffeine May Lower Skin Cancer Risk

Jul 13th, 2012

Are breast cancer screenings covered by my health insurance?According to a new report published in the journal Cancer Research, caffeine may reduce skin cancer risk.

Researchers led by Jiali Han, PhD, associate professor of dermatology and epidemiology at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard School of Public Health, suggests that those who drink caffeinated coffee are less likely to develop basal cell carcinoma.

Researchers studied the data from the Nurses’ Health Study (NHS) and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study (HPFS) which involved 112,000 people. Twenty four years of study for women and 22 years from 39,976 men. One fourth of the participants or 22,786 people developed  basal cell carcinoma, a form of skin cancer in the span of twenty years. 1,953 developed squamous-cell carcinoma (SCC) or melanoma and 741 developed melanoma.  Those who drank at least three cups of coffee a day had almost twenty percent lower risk of developing this type of cancer.

But the health benefit cannot solely be attributed to coffee. It’s caffeine that matters and therefore, other beverage or food that contain caffeine, like tea, chocolate and cola can give you the same benefit.

“I think we’re seeing more and more evidence for the beneficial effects of coffee consumption,”

Han however said “I would not recommend increasing your coffee intake based on these data alone,” “However,” she continued, “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.”

Skin cancer affects 2.8 million Americans each year. One out of five Americans develop skin cancer. Four in five have basal cell carcinoma.

Han also said he’s not advising that people drink coffee and then bake at the beach. The best way to prevent skin cancer is to minimize exposure to ultraviolet light from the sun or tanning booths, he says.

Other proven ways to protect your skin against skin cancer is to avoid sun exposure especially when the sun is at its hottest – from 10 in the morning until 4 in the afternoon. If this is unavoidable, protect your skin by applying sunscreen that has an SPF of at least 15. Wear a wide-brim hat that can cover your face and neck. Wear clothes that can cover your arms and legs. It’s also important to protect your eyes by wearing sunglasses with UV protection.

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