Coffee may reduce risk of skin cancer

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PHOENIX -- Could a cup of joe be a cancer-fighting drink?

Coffee might help reduce the risk of the most common form of skin cancer.

“The basal cell cancer has a kind of pearly kind of border,” Dr. Walter Quan Jr. said. “It gives symptoms in terms of a mole that grows and it also has something that can cause bleeding."

Quan said more than 1.3 million Americans will be diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma every year. He's with Cancer Treatment Centers of America at Western Regional Medical Center in Goodyear.

“What's important is skin cancer is something that is curable when caught early for the great majority of people,” Quan said.

One way to cut your risk is consuming caffeine. A new study of more than 112,000 people found women who drank more than three cups of coffee per day reportedly cut their risk by 21 percent. The men reduced their risk by 9 percent.

“It appears that a substance in coffee, perhaps the caffeine, may be able to trigger certain cancer cells or certain cells that would want to turn into cancer,” Quan said.

Coffee wasn't the only benefit. Tea, cola and chocolate were also found to reduce the risk. While exciting research, Quan said this doesn't mean you stop using other methods to protect your skin.

“Where the study is important is to be able to say that the things we eat, the things we drink, the things we're exposed to can have some effect against cancer,” Quan said.

Researchers analyzed more than 20 years of data. The study can be found in the Cancer Research Journal.