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Three Cups of Coffee a Day May Keep Skin Cancer Away

A recent analysis of a 20 year study suggests that drinking caffeinated coffee - but not decaf - could dramatically reduce the risk of the most common form of skin cancer, basal cell carcinoma. The researchers noted that drinking three or more cups of coffee daily resulted in the lowest risk of developing skin cancer.

They also found positive associations between caffeine in all dietary sources —such as chocolate and tea—and skin cancer reduction. They did not, however, find any association between decaffeinated tea and skin cancer, suggesting that the caffeine plays a large role in reducing the risk of skin cancer.

No association was found between caffeine consumption and squamous cell carcinoma or melanoma. The researchers believe that this could be due to the lower incidence of these conditions in the study population, which would make it harder to note any association between intake and incidence.

Researchers analyzed the Nurses' Health Study (focusing on women) and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study (focusing on men) for their study, in which 112,897 adults were followed for more than 20 years. Of that number, 22,786 developed basal cell carcinoma during the duration of the study.

The study was conducted by researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School. It was published on July 1, 2012 in the journal Cancer Research.

Beyond skin cancer reduction, previous studies have shown that caffeine may also help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s, ease depression, increase memory and increase stamina during exercise.

One note to coffee drinkers: be careful how you take your coffee. A double latte with whipped cream and three sugars may provide the cognitive health benefits seen here, but the high fat and sugar content can have other negative effects.

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