An investigation by the National Institute of Health and the American Association of Retired Peoples discovered caffeinated coffee is associated with a decrease in malignant melanoma, a form of skin cancer.
Protection against skin cancer increased when participants drank one to four cups of coffee on a daily basis.
The survey studied 477,000 people.
Stephen Hursting, a UNC nutrition professor, was part of a study involving coffee and cancer, and found drinking coffee also protects people against liver cancer.
Hursting said chlorogenic acid, an antioxidant, and cafestol, an anti-inflammatory, found in coffee beans may decrease skin cancer and liver cancer among alcoholics.
“Students should be careful in the sun to avoid skin cancer, and they should be confident that they can drink coffee and it won’t increase their risk and it could have beneficial effects,” he said.
Hursting said if students want to prevent skin cancer they should look for moles, be careful in the sun and not rely on coffee for protection.
“We want to be clear that the harmful effects of excess sun exposure are much stronger than the preventative effects of drinking coffee,” he said.
The study found that caffeine only offers protection against malignant melanoma.
Senior Ece Taner said she drinks a minimum of two cups of coffee a day and is going to tell her friends about the newfound benefits of drinking coffee.
“Whenever I do go in the sun, I make sure I have some kind of protection and wear sunglasses,” she said.
Taner said she used to go to the tanning bed, but she stopped going three years ago because she began to understand the negative effects it can have.
“Three years ago, I was really concerned about beauty and the superficial things and how you always want to look tan and great, but it’s not the most important thing in the world,” she said. “I am just trying to be more conscious of everything I do and limit the risks that are already high.”
If people do not like coffee, Hursting said drinking tea may have comparable compounds, but recommends avoiding sugary drinks.
“There is no magic one thing to do. Will coffee prevent cancer? No. Will it slightly reduce the risk? Maybe, and that’s the signal,” he said. “Cancer is too complex for one food item to fix it.”
Junior Christine Malarkey said she prevents skin cancer by wearing SPF 15 on her face everyday and wears at least SPF 45 when she is in the sun for long periods of time.
“I probably won’t drink more coffee (to prevent skin cancer), but I’ll feel okay with drinking my one cup,” she said.