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Caffeine Linked To Lower Skin Cancer Risk 130

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the stay-up-all-night-sleep-during-the-day dept.
THE_WELL_HUNG_OYSTER writes "The curative effects of coffee continue to be discovered as the Harvard School of Public Health and Boston's Brigham & Women's Hospital published a new study today that links caffeine consumption with reduced skin cancer rates. Quoting: 'The study of nearly 113,000 men and women found those who drank three or more cups of coffee a day had a 20 percent lower risk of basal cell carcinoma than those who said no to Joe. Caffeine in non-coffee substances was found equally effective. The cause is speculated to be related to caffeine's ability to "kill off damaged skin cells," said Dr. Josh Zeichner, assistant professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York. "If you get rid of these cells that are damaged, then they don't have the opportunity to grow and form cancers."'"
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Caffeine Linked To Lower Skin Cancer Risk

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  • coffee (Score:5, Funny)

    by Phusion (58405) on Monday July 02, 2012 @07:02PM (#40522335)

    Oh, good, I was just about to turn down my caffeine IV drip. I suppose it's time to turn it up!

    • by azalin (67640)
      Well maybe it's also linked to not getting much sun on your skin from to much working in a offices with no windows or the obligatory basement.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Some day science will catch up to my coffee consumption.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    A study published today linked the acceptance of funding from coffee cartels to the finding of health benefits of coffee consumption.

    (More) News at ten.

    • by kanto (1851816)

      A study published today linked the acceptance of funding from coffee cartels to the finding of health benefits of coffee consumption.

      (More) News at ten.

      This! You rarely get similar exciting news about tea either killing you or giving you eternal life, makes me think I've chosen some kind of third world beverage... even alcohol gets the occasional "it's okay if you don't overdo it" so it has to have some first world banking behind it.

      • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Monday July 02, 2012 @07:53PM (#40522663) Homepage

        I don't think you have to target the Illuminati. Some people have been trying to shoot down caffeine forever. It's a drug, so it has to be bad. It makes people feel good, so it has to be bad.

        Unfortunately for the Puritans, it turns out the coffee is pretty innocuous. But, like with another popular drug that's made out to be more dangerous than it is, a portion of the society will never accept the phrase 'better living through chemistry'.

      • by russotto (537200)

        Unless you've been living under a rock, you get stories about the health benefit of tea all the time. Alcohol, too, though usually with caveats not backed up by the data. Nutritionists and public health people are generally ascetics, though, so stories about something that people like to consume being good for you are often downplayed or ignored.

      • I seem to recall that from about 2006 to 2008 all I heard about was the health benefits of tea, especially green tea. (Remember 'superfoods' and how 'antioxidants' were/are the solution to all health woes?) A quick google search for 'health benefits green tea' yields just shy of 6 million results. Is it just that none of these articles appeared on slashdot that's causing your conspira-spidey sense to tingle?
        • by kanto (1851816)

          I guess tea just doesn't have that Good vs Evil side to when compared to caffeine to make those stories pop and when I hear 'superfoods' and 'antioxidants' it just registers as marketing lingo ("umbrella terms" under which you can drop just about anything).

  • by Barbarian (9467) on Monday July 02, 2012 @07:04PM (#40522359)

    Perhaps those drinking 3 cups a day are more likely to be in jobs where they are virtually chained to a desk, so they rarely see the sun and thus less skin cancer.

    • by lvxferre (2470098) on Monday July 02, 2012 @07:07PM (#40522385)
      One more benefit of caffeine: it drives you away from hazards like fresh air and sun!
    • by multiben (1916126) on Monday July 02, 2012 @07:10PM (#40522411)
      There is no direct link to the study, but you are 100% right. Ensuring that correlations were made between study participants who were consistent in aspects such as age and lifestyle would be critical to this study having any meaning.
    • by clarkkent09 (1104833) on Monday July 02, 2012 @07:15PM (#40522459)

      In other news, those drinking more than 3 Piña Coladas a day were 20% more likely to get skin cancer. But it's worth it!

    • by TheInternetGuy (2006682) on Monday July 02, 2012 @07:22PM (#40522499)

      Perhaps those drinking 3 cups a day are more likely to be in jobs where they are virtually chained to a desk, so they rarely see the sun and thus less skin cancer.

      Normally I would agree with your line of thinking. But since coffee also has been show to cut the rates of liver cancer and Alzheimer. I would say that there are other functions at work here. All three seems to be, as the summary stated, related to the ability to kill off damaged cells before they do more damage.

      • But since coffee also has been show to cut the rates of liver cancer and Alzheimer.

        But that was shown to be about equally protective for regular and decaf. Then again, I've seen several studies which effectively assert 'coffee==caffeine' and never give a second thought to the hundreds of other compounds in the beverage. 'Scientists'...

        • by Creepy (93888)

          Coffee has also been shown to increase the risk of some types of cancer... but only if unfiltered (i.e. french press, espresso). I seem to recall filtering removes the oil responsible.

      • by arth1 (260657)

        Normally I would agree with your line of thinking. But since coffee also has been show to cut the rates of liver cancer and Alzheimer. I would say that there are other functions at work here

        I haven't seen anything establishing a cause. There appears to be negative correlations between coffee and Alzheimer's, just as there is for nicotine use, but as far as I know, no causation. It could also be that early symptoms of plaque build-up lessens the craving for caffeine and/or nicotine, or there could be a myriad of other explanations.

        In this case, I also wonder whether this was correlated with the propensity to (a) drink coffee, and (b) be exposed to sun. Scandinavians drink a heck of a lot mor

      • by pepty (1976012)

        But since coffee also has been show to cut the rates of liver cancer and Alzheimer. I would say that there are other functions at work here. All three seems to be, as the summary stated, related to the ability to kill off damaged cells before they do more damage.

        My guess is that a lot of studies are actually measuring people's ability to metabolize caffeine, which is a function of the liver. If your liver enzymes are no longer able to metabolize much caffeine (or you're taking drugs that contraindicate caffeine), you not only quit drinking coffee but you're more likely to have other problems as well. I'd like to see the studies performed where the control group is strictly people who choose not to drink coffee for other reasons - i.e., Mormons.

    • by proslack (797189) on Monday July 02, 2012 @07:23PM (#40522511) Journal
      The military runs on coffee. I used to wash raw coffee grounds down with a swig from my canteen on road marches (no hot water) when I was an infantryman. Plenty of people with non-desk jobs drink coffee, especially in colder climates. That's what Thermos bottles are for.
      • by plover (150551) * on Monday July 02, 2012 @07:35PM (#40522569) Homepage Journal

        I think you're on to something.

        Colder climates are cold because they receive less energy from the sun. Not that you can't get harmful doses of UV in the colder climates, it just takes longer. Colder climates also require more covering of arms, legs, and the head - thus further reducing the overall exposure to the UV rays from the sun.

        Some people drink less coffee when it's warm out, and more coffee in the winter. And some people drink coffee only when it's dark in the mornings - again, the sign of living at higher latitudes.

        Perhaps this study is simply revealing a correlation between people who drink coffee and living closer to the poles?

    • Interesting theory. However:

      Caffeine in non-coffee substances was found equally effective.

      Some sports drinks and (most?) soft drinks contain caffeine, products which are consumed by younger presumably more outgoing people that may have less chance to get skin cancer in the first place. So I don't know, having not read the actual journal article, how meaningful the correlations are. Maybe somebody should come up with a study linking Facebook to decreased/increased incidence of name-your-favorite-health-prob

      • by AK Marc (707885)
        What are the results when looking at people who drink decaffeinated coffee?
        • From the linked article [go.com]:

          Drinking decaffeinated coffee did not have the same benefit, pointing to caffeine as the protective agent. Indeed, caffeine from sources other than coffee like cola and chocolate was also linked to a decreased risk of basal cell carcinoma, according to the study.

          Missed the chocolate.

        • by dr.g (158917)

          What are the results when looking at people who drink decaffeinated coffee?

          Well, when I look at them; queasiness, contempt and the unshakable conviction that I'll be staying up longer than they will.

    • Or, more simply: Those who get less sunlight -- regardless of job status -- feel compelled to drink more coffee?

      (i.e.: "sunlight" correlates to sleep patterns, sleepiness, and alertness.)

    • by tomhath (637240)
      Maybe, but most people I know who work outdoors carry a thermos full of coffee...
    • by retchdog (1319261)

      the study included self-report sun exposure; the higher quintiles of caffeine consumption had very slightly higher sun exposure (but not significant).

      something that struck me though, was that very high caffeine consumption (>600mg/day) was linked with heavy smoking (addicts are addicts across the board). i personally suspect that naively "compensating" for heavy smoking (by doing a non-causal regression) bled over into reduced cancer for the same group, as a statistical artifact. this is consistent with

    • Perhaps those drinking 3 cups a day are more likely to be in jobs where they are virtually chained to a desk, so they rarely see the sun and thus less skin cancer.

      Prior studies on animal models have produced similar reductions in skin cancer associated with caffeine; the result in the article is not surprising. For example, here is a skin cancer study done with caffeine and mice:

      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120403142328.htm [sciencedaily.com]

      No mice were chained to a desk for this study. I recall other stu

    • by PopeRatzo (965947)

      Perhaps those drinking 3 cups a day are more likely to be in jobs where they are virtually chained to a desk, so they rarely see the sun and thus less skin cancer.

      Why are people who drink 3 cups of coffee a day more likely to have jobs where they are stuck indoors?

      If you've ever been around a construction crew or on a farm, you'd know that they drink a whole lot of coffee.

      Also, policemen, firemen and bike messengers.

      First, remember that a "cup of coffee" is not necessarily the 32 oz super soy vente skinny c

    • They did in fact control for a number of risk factors: "BMI, physical activity, smoking status, childhood reaction to sun, severe sunburns, moles, hair color, family history of melanoma, sun exposures at different age intervals, UV index, and history of nonskin cancer." If you have access through a university library or other source, here's [aacrjournals.org] the link to the actual article.

    • I think that not having sun (and health) is actually worse for you skin than having some of it.
    • My anecdotal evidence disagrees with you. I come from a long line of contractors, construction workers, and landscapers...these people drink a LOT of coffee...and often spend weeks toiling in the sun.

    • Yeah but some studies claim not getting any sun can make you more likely to get skin cancer. Perhaps if you never see the sun when you do go out skin can't handle it. So if you go down that route the only safe option is to never go out.
  • I-i-i-i- (Score:4, Funny)

    by ackthpt (218170) on Monday July 02, 2012 @07:09PM (#40522403) Homepage Journal

    w-w-wwwonderedw-w-whyI-i-d-d-don't-t-tb-b-b-urna-a-a-sm-m-uch-a-a-a-sI-i-i-u-u-usedt-t-t-o

  • Wait a second, everybody is telling me that caffeine gives me cancer, just like everything else in the world, lol. So it gives me one type of cancer while lowering my risk of another cancer, I think I can deal with that.
    • by steelfood (895457)

      everybody is telling me that caffeine gives me cancer

      Only the State of California knows that.

    • by canajin56 (660655)
      Surely not everybody. There have been a few studies that showed a possible link. But the thing about studies with 95% confidence intervals is that when you have 30 of them, a few might show a link. Obligatory XCKD [xkcd.com]. I don't think any studies have found a strong link to any kind of cancer. There is a link between drinking excessively hot drinks and throat cancer, though, but that applies to anything hot at all. It is speculated that this link may be responsible for the variation between studies, as it's
  • I am so glad that we have WELL_HUNG_OYSTER to inform us about this health benefit of caffeine.

    What would we do wtihout WELL_HUNG_OYSTER?

    Does caffeine even work on oysters?

  • by John Hasler (414242) on Monday July 02, 2012 @07:19PM (#40522483) Homepage

    So maybe you should bathe in it rather than drink it?

  • I want to know how many NOC and IT folks are in that study... Perhaps a disproportionate amount?

  • And the best coffee on the West Coast is Santa Cruz Dark --- in Cali. and up northwards, it's Seattle's Best Coffee (with a number of other blends also great there!). On the East Coast, it's wherever you can get it, unless you're in Miami, also fantastic Cuban coffee there!
  • For example, lets say the caffeine drinkers are more likely to be basement mushrooms that don't go outside.

    Then caffeine would correlate with lower skin cancer risks.

    I hate statistical studies. They're only done correctly about 23.8 percent of the time. And only 12.4 percent of the time provide proper methodology. And then about 18.83 percent of them are completely fabricated.

    • I hate statistical studies. They're only done correctly about 23.8 percent of the time. And only 12.4 percent of the time provide proper methodology. And then about 18.83 percent of them are completely fabricated.

      And approximately 0.00274% (+- 0.00013% with 95% confidence) of Slashdot users ever bother to actually read the studies before they go on a tear about how bad they are.

  • by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Monday July 02, 2012 @08:16PM (#40522773)

    Caffeine in non-coffee substances was found equally effective.

    Wait just a minute - let's not go injecting unproven pseudo-science into this discussion!

    Coffee is a source of good caffeine. Some of those other substances contain bad caffeine.

    -- Your friends on the Coffee Council

    • Actually as a caffeine addict who is trying to avoid regaining all my hard-won weight loss, coffee is probably one of, if not the best source of caffeine because it can easily be consumed without sugar or sugar substitutes. The only other substance like that is tea(which I do drink as well, ostensibly green tea helps you lose weight), but tea tends to have a much lower concentration of caffeine than coffee does.
      • Try gyokuro, you'll change your mind about "tea tends to have a much lower concentration of caffeine".

  • At least, that sounds like it would be the case here. Three or more cups of coffee a day will definitely leave you hooked, while there's still a good chance that you'll end up developing basal cell carcinoma anyway. In the long run, this is definitely a strategy that is better for the coffee industry than it is for you.

    IMO, a much healthier and much cheaper way to protect yourself against skin cancer is with lycopene [wikipedia.org], which is commonly found in tomatoes. Tomato paste is an excellent source of this partic

    • by Hatta (162192)

      In the long run, this is definitely a strategy that is better for the coffee industry than it is for you.

      Unless perhaps, you actually like coffee.

      • by FridayBob (619244)

        In the long run, this is definitely a strategy that is better for the coffee industry than it is for you.

        Unless perhaps, you actually like coffee.

        Simply liking coffee doesn't make it any more healthy for you, or any less profitable for the coffee industry, or that you should be any more trusting of this research.

        • by Hatta (162192)

          You didn't say healthier. You said better. Doing things that I like is better for me than not doing those things. We're all going to die anyway, so the point is to fill the time you have with pleasure. Coffee is an excellent source of pleasure.

          Besides, the research claiming that coffee is unhealthy is at least as dubious as the research claiming that coffee is healthy.

          • by FridayBob (619244)

            You didn't say healthier. You said better.

            Yes, I said better, but in the context of an alleged health benefit.

            Doing things that I like is better for me than not doing those things. We're all going to die anyway, so the point is to fill the time you have with pleasure. Coffee is an excellent source of pleasure.

            That is a common argument that drug addicts use to justify their destructive behavior. Yet when they eventually come face to face with the consequences of their old habits, they almost invariably have their regrets.

            Coffee? Fine with me. I like it too, but am careful never to make it a habit. Like with so many things, moderation is they key. Pleasure? That's fine with me as well, but if you must overdo things and live the life of a sens

            • by Hatta (162192)

              That is a common argument that drug addicts use to justify their destructive behavior. Yet when they eventually come face to face with the consequences of their old habits, they almost invariably have their regrets.

              Lovely logic you have there. Obviously people who quit drinking coffee are going to have negative opinions about it, otherwise they wouldn't have quit. Why don't you ask divorcees their opinion about marriage?

              How so? What powerful lobby would be sponsoring research into coffee being unhealthy?

              • by FridayBob (619244)

                ... Obviously people who quit drinking coffee are going to have negative opinions about it, otherwise they wouldn't have quit. ...

                Personally, my feelings about coffee are mixed. When dining out, I still prefer a cup of coffee after dessert, but I don't drink it at home or at work because I don't want it to become a habit. It once was a habit -- 2-3 cups a day at work -- but then I always got this splitting headache on Saturday afternoon. As soon as I found out that the coffee was to blame, I switched to drinking tea, which contains a lot less caffeine, and the problem went away.

                I have the same attitude towards alcohol. I love a go

  • by dbet (1607261) on Monday July 02, 2012 @08:25PM (#40522825)
    Be careful of studies that link things with minor changes from the control group, even ones with large populations. 20% lower than an already low risk is pretty much nothing. Just as an example, smokers have a 2000% higher risk of lung cancer than non-smokers. Whites have a 400% higher chance of melanoma than blacks.

    The only time you can take small changes seriously is when there are multiple sources and a proposed mechanism that is consistent with our previous understanding. "May help kill damaged cells" might be 100% correct, but it's not a mechanism, it's just the hypothesized result.

    These kinds of studies are interesting but don't make too much out of them.
    • Consider this when you hear that non-smokers exposed to second-hand smoke are 20% more likely to get lung cancer.

      Oh, wait! That's only for studies we don't like!

      • by hankwang (413283)

        Consider this when you hear that non-smokers exposed to second-hand smoke are 20% more likely to get lung cancer.

        I think you missed this part:

        The only time you can take small changes seriously is when there are multiple sources and a proposed mechanism that is consistent with our previous understanding.

        In the case of passive smoking [wikipedia.org], there are ample studies confirming effects on lung and cardiovascular diseases, and the mechanism is pretty clear as well. The Wikipedia article mentions risk increases for he

    • The mechanism is supposedly: Caffeine inhibits DNA damage checkpoint kinases, allowing cells with DNA damage to slip through the checkpoint mechanism which normally stops them dividing when damage is present (the G2/M checkpoint). So they progress to mitosis where they might divide into two new cells. The DNA structures formed by this damage, often caused by DNA replication which has stalled because it can't get past the damage, either cause the cells to die at this point (mitotic catastrophe) or may be dra

  • DId they consider the fact that most of us who consume tons of caffeine are usually stuffed in an office somewhere outside of sunlight all day? The only sunlight I ever get is during the commute to and from work.
    • I wonder if they also considered that we are more likely to die of stroke because we sit on our butts all day long. No cancer but we get heart disease! The irony!
  • by tpjunkie (911544) on Monday July 02, 2012 @08:48PM (#40522957) Journal
    Basal cell carcinomas are very slow growing, very, very rarely invasive, and almost hardly metastasize. They're gross, unsightly and unpleasant, but not really a killer. If this were melanoma on the other hand, that'd be a big deal.
  • Let me guess - in 19 other studies on the same group no effect was observed at to a 95% confidence.

  • "If you get rid of these cells that are damaged, then they don't have the opportunity to grow and form cancers."'" "If you get rid of this guy that is damaged, then he doesn't have the opportunity to grow and form lineage."'" Damn I thought I'd heard this before....
  • And once again, there exists as many downsides to caffeine too. There's just too much money to be made in the coffee industry. Caffeine is a vasodilator (decreasing blood flow to your brain), increases inflammation[citation needed], destroys cells in hippocampus[citation needed], weakens your sleep, etc. And technically caffeine is a toxic alkaloid, so. We could just set up a study called "having a couple cups of coffee found to be nice and relaxing".
    • by jc42 (318812)

      And technically caffeine is a toxic alkaloid, so.

      Yep, and it is also occasionally pointed out that most vitamins are toxic compounds. They're typical textbook examples of the "J-shaped response curve", required for good health in tiny quantities, but with seriously negative consequenses in overdose quantities.

      Google can find you lots of info about the fatal dosage for caffeine. It's generally estimated as an LD50 of around 150 mg/kg, which (depending on your weight) is on the order of 100 to 200 cups of regular coffee. So if you keep your consumption

  • It's not like we ever go outside or anything...

  • Coffee linked to indoor office jobs where exposure to the sun is minimal. Minimal exposure to the sun linked to reduced risk for skin cancer.

    Tsk.

  • Now if someone could only prove it would make us live forever...
  • ...would be to drink coffee out of a graphene cup.
  • The good news about the one of world's most popular delivery systems for the world's most popular psychoactive drug keeps coming: http://dietaryfiberguide.com/high-fiber-foods/dietary-fiber-coffee/ [dietaryfiberguide.com] .

  • by littlewink (996298) on Tuesday July 03, 2012 @12:07PM (#40529205)
    With a name like "THE_WELL_HUNG_OYSTER" I just gotta ask.
  • I'm tired of all these stupid studies on 'beneficial effect of.."
    People have been talking about red wine for years but the original study that started it all hasnt been duplicated.
    Just look at another topic of the day regarding retractions.

    THESE STUDIES ARE NOW A MONEY_MAKING INDUSTRY AND SHOULD BE IGNORED UNLESS WIDELY REPEATED!

  • It is caffeine alone that sets my mind in motion. It is through the beans of Java that thoughts acquire speed; that hands acquire shakes, that shakes become a warning. It is caffeine alone that lets me roll the dice.

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