Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Melanoma/Skin Cancer Health Center

Font Size

Coffee vs. Skin Cancer?

Study: Nonmelanoma Skin Cancer May Be Rarer in White Postmenopausal Women Who Drink Caffeinated Coffee
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Nov. 2, 2007 -- America's most common cancer may be rarer among postmenopausal women who drink coffee.

The researchers who report that news are talking about nonmelanoma skin cancer.

The National Cancer Institute estimates that there will be more than a million new cases and fewer than 2,000 deaths from nonmelanoma skin cancer in the U.S. in 2007.

Wayne State University's Ernest Abel, PhD, and colleagues studied coffee consumption and nonmelanoma skin cancer in more than 77,000 white postmenopausal women in the U.S.

The women participated in a long-term observational health study that began in the 1990s.

When the women joined the study, they shared lots of information about themselves, including how much coffee (decaf or caffeinated) and tea they drank and whether they had ever been diagnosed with nonmelanoma skin cancer.

Skin Cancer and Coffee

A total of 7,482 women reported ever having nonmelanoma skin cancer.

The researchers considered factors including participants' smoking, drinking, age, BMI (body mass index, which relates height to weight), and whether the women lived in the sunny South or further north when the study started.

After those adjustments, the researchers found that each daily cup of caffeinated coffee was associated with a 5% drop in the women's odds of reporting nonmelanoma skin cancer.

Women who drank six cups of caffeinated coffee per day were 30% less likely than other women to report nonmelanoma skin cancer.

Decaffeinated coffee and tea weren't linked to the women's odds of reporting nonmelanoma skin cancer.

Study's Limits

Like other observational studies, this one doesn't prove cause and effect. That is, the researchers didn't test coffee to see if it prevents skin cancer.

Abel and colleagues didn't have data on which women wore sunscreen or whether the women drank more or less coffee over the years.

Also, the findings only show which women reported nonmelanoma skin cancer at the study's start. So it's not clear who developed nonmelanoma skin cancer later.

Abel's team calls for long-term studies to track the relationship between coffee and nonmelanoma skin cancer over time.

Their findings appear in the European Journal of Cancer Research.

In July, other researchers reported that the combination of caffeine and exercise may help fight skin cancer. But Abel's team found that physical activity didn't cut skin cancer risk, perhaps due to sun exposure during outdoor activities.


Today on WebMD

Malignant melanoma
About 40-50 percent of those who live to be 65 may get it. Here’s how to spot early.
Woman checking out tan lines
There’s a dark side to that strive for beauty. See them here.
sauteed cherry tomatoes
Fight cancer one plate at a time.
Lung cancer xray
See it in pictures, plus read the facts.
12 Ways to Protect Your Skin from Melanoma
precancerous lesions slideshow
Do You Know Your Melanoma ABCs
15 Cancer Symptoms Men Ignore
screening tests for men
Vitamin D
Is That Mole Skin Cancer
Brilliant sun rays