Alberta Cancer Foundation

Coffee and cancer

A study published on January 20 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute reveals that coffee drinkers were less likely to suffer from malignant melanoma, a form of skin cancer – and that with every cup they drank, the risk decreases somewhat.

Yale University School of Public Health researchers gathered data from a study run by the U.S. National Institutes of Health and AARP. A food questionnaire was sent to 3.5 million people living in six states: California, Florida, Louisiana, New Jersey, North Carolina and Pennsylvania; as well as two cities, Atlanta and Detroit.

The questionnaire yielded coffee drinking details for nearly 447,400 white seniors in 1995 and 1996, and researchers followed up with the participants for about a decade. Participants were all cancer-free when they filled out the survey, and researchers adjusted for other factors that could influence melanoma risk. Those factors included: ultraviolet radiation exposure, body mass index, age, sex, physical activity, alcohol intake and smoking history.

They found people who drank the most coffee every day showed a lower risk of melanoma, compared with non-coffee drinkers or those who drank very little.