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September 20, 2012
Coffee is consumed in great amounts and for many decades has been one of the most favorite beverages of people around the world. Moderate coffee consumption is beneficial, mainly due to stimulating and tonic effects of caffeine, a substance which is in plenty in coffee and some foods like chocolate. Health benefits of coffee are numerous and using 2-3 cups of coffee on a daily basis can help us support our cardiovascular health, reduce the risks of Alzheimer’s diseases and other dementia-like brain disorders, as well as increase our lifespan. According to the findings of a recent study, caffeine in coffee and tea can give us a hand in preventing one more serious health condition.
As it was reported earlier this summer in Cancer Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research, a joint group of scientists at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School in Boston and Harvard School of Public Health found out that a regular moderate coffee consumption has inverse links with skin cancer risk, namely basal cell carcinoma, one of the most common types of skin cancer. The scientists are convinced that the effects should be attributed exactly to caffeine in coffee and tea, so using coffee and other caffeine-rich products like chocolate or caffeinated drinks can reduce skin cancer risk and protect our skin from cancer-related problems.
These conclusions were made by the American scientists after studying the data on over 113,000 participants collected during the Nurses’ Health Study for over 20 year period. The researchers found out that for the stated period of time, about one fourth of the participants (about 22,800 people) developed skin cancer, namely basal cell carcinoma. After analyzing the related factors like eating habits, lifestyle and others, it became apparent that the more caffeinated coffee and other foods high on caffeine are consumed, the lower skin cancer risk, or basal cell carcinoma risk. At the same time caffeine-free coffee consumption had no mentioned effects and did not decrease the risks of developing skin cancer.
The type of skin cancer known as basal cell carcinoma is one of the slow developing types of cancer which is considered not as serious and lethal as other types like melanoma or squamous cell carcinoma. However, if left untreated, it can lead to quite a considerable damage and possibly even death. The researchers say that caffeine consumption can reduce the risks, but it does not mean we should start drinking gallons of coffee every day in order to reduce our skin cancer risk. Jiali Han, one of the study leaders and an associate professor at Brigham and Women’s Hospital said that it was too soon to considerably increase our daily coffee consumption based only on the findings of her scientific group.
At the same time, it is not the first study that links reduced skin cancer risk and large consumption of caffeine in coffee and tea. “These results really suggest that it is the caffeine in coffee that is responsible for the decreased risk of basal cell carcinoma associated with increasing coffee consumption. This would be consistent with published mouse data, which indicate caffeine can block skin tumor formation. However, more studies in different population cohorts and additional mechanistic studies will be needed before we can say this definitively,” Han underlined. She also confirmed that basal cell carcinoma is a very common type of skin cancer: among the participants of the study, 22,800 people had basal cell carcinoma, 1,955 had squamous cell carcinoma, and 740 developed melanoma.
Han also added that the type of skin cancer like basal cell carcinoma is just a new condition in quite a long list of diseases and ailments the risk of which can be reduced by daily caffeine consumption. According to the expert, “This list includes conditions with serious negative health consequences such as type 2 diabetes and Parkinson’s disease.” But we must remember that increased caffeine consumption can, in turn, impose certain risks of elevated blood pressure, various disorders of nervous system, and other health problems. The recommended daily dose of caffeinated coffee for everyone is 2-4 cups. For detailed information about the research objectives, methods and findings of the expert group, go to here.
Author Info: Hi! My name is Carla and I am a 5th year medical student at HYMS. I am interested in alternative medicine and I have done months researching the topic of herbal medicine. Besides, I like interviewing people and learning more about their experiences with one or another type of herbal treatments. I am willing to contribute to this site with my knowledge, and I would be happy to help you out to the best of my ability with any specific questions or problems related to alternative medicine.