Can Coffee Protect Against Skin Cancer?

For today’s blog, it’s good news.

Scratching around PubMed looking for inspiration I came across two meta-analyses that caught my eye:

    1. Coffee, tea and caffeine intake and the risk of non-melanoma skin cancer: a review of the literature and meta-analysis. (Eur J Nutr. 2017 Feb;56 (1):1-12.)
    2. Higher caffeinated coffee intake is associated with reduced malignant melanoma risk: A meta-analysis study. (PLoS One. 2016 Jan 27;11(1):e0147056.).


Are you still reading? Good, I promise it will be worth it.


First, some explaining. Doctors like feeling that what they do is backed by some solid facts. One thing we are interested in is correlations. Is there a link between sleeping-in and happiness? Are holidays related to good mental health? One way to find out is to ask people who sleep in and those who don’t how happy they are. Ask people who go on holiday and those who don’t, what they think of their mental health. Now, obviously asking just one person will not make you confident that their answer will be the same as everyone else’s. The more people you ask, the more confident you can be. That’s what a meta-analysis is; combining the answers of as many people as you can from as many studies as you can make the answers more correct. Right?


The first meta-analysis used 37,627 cases from 13 studies! The second combined the answers from over 850,000 participants! which makes me feel pretty confident about the truthiness of the results.


The conclusion from the first study was that coffee intake exerts a moderate protective effect against basal cell carcinomas (the most common skin cancer)! Now, this is just a correlation, so it cannot conclude that it was definitely the coffee. It might mean that coffee drinkers get up later and it might be the extra sleep and not the coffee.


The conclusion from the second study was that caffeinated coffee might have preventative effects against melanoma but not decaffeinated coffee! Now we can be more sure it might be caffeine in the coffee and not the extra sleep.


Woot, right!


I’m off now for the morning’s third coffee, or is that, to protect myself against skin cancer!


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