More and more research is pointing to the benefits of drinking coffee. There has already been studies showing that increased coffee consumption can help reduce liver inflammation, and it is also thought that it can help protect against type 2 diabetes. Now a new study has shown that cofeee might also reduce the risk of getting melanoma, one of the most dangerous types of skin cancer with a high mortality rate.

The study, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, showed that people who drink 4 or more cups of coffee a day, were 20% less likely to develop malignant melanoma than non coffee drinkers. There has been previous studies that have hinted at the fact that coffee might reduce the risk of non melanoma skin cancers, but the results when looking at melanomas have been mixed. Until now that is.

The researchers looked at over 440000 retired people over 10 years . In this group there were 2904 cases of malignant melanoma which had spread beyond the top layer of skin and 1874 cases of early stage non spread melanoma. The participants reported their coffee consumption and other risk factors and the researchers used data from NASA on the amount of sunlight in each of the participants home towns.

The results were surprising. In people who drank at least 4 cups of coffee a day, the risk of developing melanoma was 20% less than in those who consumed less coffee. The findings were specific to caffeinated coffee and not decaf, but researchers would not comment on whether it was the caffeine that afforded the protection or some other unknown compound in the coffee, that might be more abundant in caffeinated coffee.

It is important to realise that the study was limited by the fact that they could not know what sunscreens the patients used or the skin type of the patients, so a lot more work needs to be done to confirm the protective effect. Nevertheless its an interesting thought that coffee, which for years was derided as being bad for you, seem to have a protective effect on several illnesses.

So for now I would still recommend using plenty of sunscreen and keeping yourself from getting sunburnt, rather than relying on coffee.