Increased Coffee Intake Linked With Lower Melanoma Risk

January 26, 2015

Consumption of four or more cups of caffeinated coffee per day was associated with a 20% decreased risk for malignant melanoma, according to a recent study.

Consumption of four or more cups of caffeinated coffee per day was associated with a 20% decreased risk for malignant melanoma, according to the results of a recent study. No decreased risk for melanoma was linked to decaffeinated coffee.

According to study author Erikka Loftfield, MPH, of Yale School of Public Health in New Haven, Connecticut, and colleagues, no decreased risk for melanoma in situ was found, which may indicate “different disease etiologies or an inhibitory role of coffee consumption in disease progression.”

Loftfield and colleagues used data from a food frequency questionnaire that was part of the National Institutes of Health-AARP prospective cohort study. They identified 447,357 non-Hispanic whites that were cancer-free at baseline and found 2,904 incident cases of malignant melanoma and 1,874 cases of melanoma in situ. The results of the study were published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Coffee consumption was reported by about 90% of the cohort, with two or more cups reported in about 65%. In a fully adjusted multivariable model, which included body mass index, age, sex, physical activity, alcohol intake, smoking history, and ambient ultraviolet radiation (UVR) exposure, the highest category of coffee consumption, defined as four or more cups a day, had a significant inverse association with malignant melanoma (hazard ratio [HR] = 0.80; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.68–0.93). This protective effect increased with higher frequency of coffee consumption (from ≤ one cup to ≥ four cups a day).

“Although our cohort had information on residential UVR exposure, it lacked individual-level information of sun exposure, as well as phenotypic and behavioral risk factors for melanoma,” the researchers wrote. “Using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examinations Survey (NHANES), we found no statistically significant associations between phenotypic risk factors or behavioral risk factors and coffee intake among non-Hispanic white US adults (≥ 20 years), except for sunscreen use (P = .01).”

The researchers also pointed out that the results are preliminary and may not be applicable to other populations, and therefore additional investigations of coffee intake are needed. However, they concluded that, “Because of its high disease burden, lifestyle modifications with even modest protective effects may have a meaningful impact on melanoma morbidity.”