The list of coffee’s beneficial attributes has grown. Over the past several years the protective effects of consuming the dark brew has been shown for vast array of aliments, from type 2 diabetes to Alzheimer’s disease.  A new study from scientists at Yale University School of Public Health has now added melanoma to the ever expanding list of aliments that coffee benefits.

More than 75,000 new cases of melanoma were diagnosed in 2014. It ranks seventh among the most common cancers in the U.S. and is the only one whose incidence is rising (almost 2% annually). 

This research was published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute under the title “Coffee Drinking and Cutaneous Melanoma Risk in the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study”.

Data for this study was taken from approximately 450,000 white seniors who were administered a food frequency questionnaire between 1995 and 1996, with participants being followed for a median average of 10 years. All of the respondents were cancer free at the beginning of the study and the investigators adjusted the data for ambient residential UV exposure, body mass index, age, sex, physical activity levels, alcohol intake, and smoking history.  

The Yale team observed a trend toward greater protection with increased intake. “We found that four or more cups of coffee per day was associated with about a 20% reduced risk of malignant melanoma,” lead author Erikka Loftfield told NewsMax. 

Interestingly, there was a statistically significant protection associated with caffeinated coffee that was not observed with the decaf brew. Furthermore, that protection only extended to malignant melanoma and not melanoma in situ, which may have a different pathology.

The researchers did warrant caution in over interpretation and pointed out that the results are preliminary and not necessarily applicable to other populations.  However, they conclude that   “Because of its high disease burden, lifestyle modifications with even modest protective effects may have a meaningful impact on melanoma morbidity. Additional investigations of coffee intake and its constituents, particularly caffeine, with melanoma are warranted.”

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