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Coffee Drinkers May Squelch Skin Cancer

The evidence is overflowing that your cup of Joe can put you at a lower risk of getting basal cell carcinoma.

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Think sunscreen is your only defense against UV’s damaging rays?

Look no further than your coffee mug or caffeine chug (yes we know a group of you are now drinking caffeinated water): There’s new evidence that a cup-o-Joe helps prevent skin cancer.

Women who drink three cups of caffeinated coffee a day reduce their risk of basal cell carcinoma by up to 20 percent, compared to those drinking less than a cup monthly.

These results are based on a large population study: over 113,000 adults who took part in the U.S. Nurses' Health Study and Health Professionals Follow-Up Study. A decrease in risk was seen among coffee-drinking men as well, though not quite as astounding.

MORE: Past Research on Coffee & Skin Cancer

Another recent study showed that compared to women drinking less than a cup of coffee a day, women who drank four or more cups had a 25 percent lower risk of endometrial cancer. This is due to coffee's ability to lower estrogen and insulin levels.

When it comes to basal cell carcinoma, chances are you know someone who has had it. It’s the most common form of skin cancer, and skin cancer is the most prevalent form of cancer. 

These findings have important consequences for other forms of cancer. Preventing basal cell carcinoma may lower the risk of getting other forms of cancer, since there’s evidence that having one kind of cancer makes you more vulnerable to other types.

This is the latest in a growing list of pro-java evidence. A 2007 study of nearly 94,000 women found that a daily cup of coffee reduced risk of non-melanoma skin cancer nearly 11 percent.

One possible reason? Caffeine may obstruct a protein called ATR from repairing damaged cells (as opposed to letting them be destroyed).

A study of mice exposed to ultraviolet (UV) radiation found that the mice grew significantly less tumors if they were genetically modified to block the ATR protein. Aside from caffeine’s role in impairing the ATR protein, coffee may act as a sort of “sunscreen” that absorbs UV rays. By caffeine blocking this protein, you simply destroy these cells, preventing the cancer from propagating. This adds to the data that caffeine may help you prevent depression, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s as well as Type 2 diabetes and ovarian cancer.

MORE: Caffeinated Coffee Linked to Low Depression Risk

If you hate the taste of coffee or how caffeine affects you, no need to force yourself to chug three cups each day. There’s no evidence that coffee directly causes you to not get skin cancer. (Correlation not causation, as they say!) And Starbucks aficionado or not, you should always be wearing your sunblock. Now that are increasing ways of getting caffeine, from teas to caffeinated water to supplemented chocolate.

One study even suggests that caffeinated coffee helps women thrive during group tasks in the workplace.

Better health and work success? Now that’s enough to make you wake up and smell the coffee!

THIS STUDY, EXPLAINED: Caffeinated Women Thrive Under Stress

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