By Nic Fleming Science Correspondent
12:01am GMT 09/11/2007
Drinking coffee can cut the risk of skin cancer by more than a third, scientists say.
Woman drinking a cappucino. Coffee 'reduces the risk of skin cancer'
A good healthy dose: scientists believe caffeine could stop skin cancers spreading
Researchers found that people who drank more than six cups of caffeinated coffee a day reduced their chances of developing the most common form of skin cancer by 35 per cent, while those who drank two or three cups were 12 per cent less likely to have the disease.
Scientists believe caffeine could stop skin cancers spreading by stopping cells dividing, or by acting as an antioxidant.
Cases of skin cancer have quadrupled for men and tripled for women over the past 25 years in Britain, partly because of the increase in holidays in the sun.
Around 75,000 cases of non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC), the milder form of the disease, are diagnosed each year. Dr Ernest Abel, whose study was published in the European Journal of Cancer Prevention, said: "The decreased prevalence in non-melanoma skin cancer associated with daily consumption of caffeinated coffee was dose-related and consistent with other studies.
"Among the possible explanations for caffeine's protective effect on NMSC are an antioxidant effect and/or inhibition of DNA synthesis and cell division."
Dr Abel, of Wayne State University, Detroit, and colleagues compared rates of NMSC among more than 77,300 white women aged 50 and over. They excluded women of other ethnic origins as they reported much lower rates of the disease.
The researchers said the findings should apply equally to men and women of all ages. Drinking decaffeinated coffee had no effect on participants' chances of developing skin cancer.