HealthDay News — Patients who drink coffee have a lower risk of malignant melanoma, results of a study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute indicate. Higher coffee intake may also increase protection, added the investigators.

“Coffee contains numerous bioactive compounds and may be associated inversely with melanoma. However, previous epidemiological evidence is limited,” noted Erikka Loftfield, MPH, a doctoral student at the Yale University School of Public Health in New Haven, Conn., and colleagues.

To assess a possible link between coffee consumption and risk of melanoma, the researchers gathered data from a study run by the U.S. National Institutes of Health and AARP.

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A food questionnaire was sent to 3.5 million AARP members living in six states: Florida, California, New Jersey, Louisiana, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania; as well as two cities, Atlanta and Detroit. The questionnaire yielded coffee drinking information for 447,357 white seniors in 1995 and 1996, and the investigators followed up with the participants for a median of 10.5 years. All participants were cancer-free when they filled out the questionnaire, and the study authors adjusted for other factors that could influence melanoma risk.

Patients who drank the most coffee every day had a lower risk of melanoma, compared with those who drank little to no coffee. There was also a trend toward more protection with higher intake. People who drank one to three cups a day had about a 10% decreased risk of melanoma compared with those who drank none at all, while those who drank four or more cups had a 20% decreased risk.

The significant decrease in melanoma risk was only seen among the study participants who drank caffeinated coffee, noted the researchers.

“Additional investigations of coffee intake and its constituents, particularly caffeine, with melanoma are warranted,” concluded the scientists.


  1. Loftfield E et al. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2015; doi: 10.1093/jnci/dju421