Janet Higgins can't start her day without coffee... lots of it.
"One or two cups at home. Then I stop on the way to work and grab another coffee," she said.
Gloria Edwards perks up with even more.
"I drink probably six cups a day," she said.
Now a new study shows increasing the amount of coffee you drink could lower your chances of developing basal cell carcinoma, the most common form of skin cancer. The study in the journal Cancer Research looked at nearly
113,000 men and women over 20 years and found the more caffeinated coffee people drank, the lower their risk of developing basal cell carcinoma.
"There is no protection against squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma, which is the most deadly form of skin cancer," said Dr. Kevin Cooper, the chair of the department of dermatology at UH Case Medical Center.
Researchers say it's probably the caffeine in coffee that lowers risk. Previous animal studies suggest caffeine can block skin tumors from forming.
Close to 3 million cases of basal cell carcinoma are diagnosed in the U.S. each year. Experts say the findings are interesting, but they don't want people loading up on coffee or throwing out their sunscreen.
"The main concern I have is that people don't think about this that, oh, if I drink a lot of coffee then I don't have to worry about protecting myself in the sun. That just isn't the case. You really need to protect yourself in the sun," Cooper said.
That's what Bennett Wright is doing now. She's been battling skin cancer for two decades.
"Now I stay out of the sun," Wright said.
Doctors say the best way to protect against skin cancer is to avoid midday sun, wear protective clothes and apply sunscreen often.
The research also found that caffeine from other sources, like tea, soda and chocolate, may also decrease basal cell cancer risk.
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