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The cool way coffee can protect your skin

Kristen Fischer is a writer living at the Jersey Shore. In addition to writing for SheKnows, she has penned articles for Prevention, Health, Woman's Day, BELLA, and New Jersey Monthly. Kristen enjoys spending time with her family, friend...

How drinking coffee saves your skin

Sun protection... from your daily cup of java?

Good news if you can't quite contain your coffee consumption: A new study published in the JNCI: Journal of the National Cancer Institute says that drinking four cups per day showed a 20 percent lower chance of developing malignant melanomas.

Erikka Loftfield, a researcher with the National Cancer Institute's Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, headed up a team that used data from 447,357 non-Hispanic, white cancer-free subjects who monitored their food consumption between 1995 and 1996.

Previous studies have also shown that coffee has a protective effect to ward off non-melanoma skin cancers, but it was not clear at the time if it was the same for malignant melanoma.

After looking at results from a median follow-up of 10 years, they found that the people who drank the most java had a lower risk for malignant melanoma. In fact, their risk was 20 percent less if they drank over four cups per day.

The researchers noticed another trend: People were more protected the more they drank. They saw a positive effect between those who drank one or fewer cups per day compared to those who guzzled four or more cups per day.

Four cups may sound like a lot of caffeine, so for those who are thinking of getting the same benefits from decaf, you're out of luck. The protective effects were only found in caffeinated brews.

"Because of its high disease burden, lifestyle modifications with even modest protective effects may have a meaningful impact on melanoma morbidity," Loftfield said in a statement.

She's not saying, however, to drink your way to cancer prevention.

"Overall, the most important thing that individuals can do to reduce their risk of melanoma is to reduce sun and UV radiation exposure," she told SheKnows.

"While our results do not indicate that individuals should alter their coffee intake, they may provide reassurance to coffee consumers that drinking coffee is not a risky thing to do," Loftfield added.

Cutaneous melanoma, or malignant melanoma, is the fifth most common cancer in the United States. Preventable risk factors, with the exception of exposure to ultraviolet radiation (UVR), are not completely understood.

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