Talking Points

Talking Points

The link between coffee and melanoma

February 23, 2015 at 6:43 pm

Can coffee reduce your risk of developing melanoma?

Coffee Reduces Melanoma RiskAs a dedicated coffee drinker I was interested to see a study from the US that seemed to show a reduced incidence of melanoma among those who drink coffee (J Natl Cancer Inst, 2015, 1-9).

This was a large study of almost 500,000 people. It looked at coffee intake and incidence of melanoma of this population over a ten-year period. Other factors that were taken into account included age, sex, level of education, smoking, alcohol intake and level of exercise, which are all potential risk factors. The impact of these factors was taken into account when measuring the influence of coffee drinking. For instance it is known that men have a higher incidence of melanoma and the older they get, the more likely they are to develop melanoma. This factor was therefore included in the analysis.

The study showed that coffee drinkers had a 20% reduced risk of melanoma that non-coffee drinkers. This was also true for caffeinated coffee but not for decaf. And the more coffee taken up to four cups per day, the stronger the effect.

What are the reasons for this result? There could be factors associated with coffee intake that are also associated with a lower incidence of melanoma. However many of the possible links were tested and shown not to be significant. The other explanation is that some constituents of coffee have been shown in laboratory studies to reduce the inflammatory effects of sunlight in the skin. It may therefore be these substances that are reducing the likelihood of coffee drinkers developing melanoma.

Whatever the explanation it seems to offer a good reason to continue drinking a delicious cup of coffee on a regular basis.


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I had just been told after attending the Mole Clinic at my local pharmacy that I could potentially have a melanoma on my right leg. Obviously I was very worried and upset by this and when I met Dr. Herd he did his best to try and reassure me. The mole was removed and after a few anxious weeks my results came back fine. I have since seen Dr. Herd on a regular basis over the years for annual skin check ups and I find that his calming and friendly manner gives me peace of mind.