WASHINGTON - More evidence that coffee, particularly among female drinkers, has a positive effect against the most common form of skin cancer worldwide was released Monday at a major US medical conference.
Women who drank more than three cups per day of caffeinated coffee saw a 20 per cent lower risk of getting basal cell carcinoma (BCC), a slow-growing form of cancer, than those who drank less than a cup per month.
Men who drank the same amount saw a nine per cent lower risk, said the research presented at the 10th American Association for Cancer Research International Conference on Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research in Boston.
"Given the nearly one million new cases of BCC diagnosed each year in the United States, daily dietary factors with even small protective effects may have great public health impact," said researcher Fengju Song, a postdoctoral fellow in the department of dermatology at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School.
"Our study indicates that coffee consumption may be an important option to help prevent BCC."
The data was derived from the Nurses' Health Study (Brigham and Women's Hospital) and the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study (Harvard School of Public Health).
The nurses study followed 72,921 participants from June 1984 to June 2008. The health professionals study tracked 39,976 participants from June 1986 to June 2008.
Basal cell carcinoma was the most frequently diagnosed skin cancer in the groups, totaling 22,786 cases.
The benefits of coffee drinking were not seen against the next two most prevalent types -- squamous cell carcinoma (1,953 cases) or melanoma (741 cases).
Basal cell carcinoma is a non-melanoma form of skin cancer, and is the most common cancer in the United States. Seventy-five per cent of all skin cancers are basal cell carcinomas, according to the American Cancer Society.
It is most common in people with light hair and green or blue eyes, and can manifest itself as a skin sore that bleeds and doesn't heal, though it rarely spreads to other parts of the body.
Previous studies have shown coffee drinkers tend to have fewer incidences of breast, uterine, prostate and colon cancers, but the beneficial effects are not seen in people who drink decaffeinated coffee.