Researchers at the Wayne State University in Detroit have found that drinking six cups of caffeinated coffee a day can reduce the chances of developing the most common form of skin cancer by 35%.
They also discovered that those who drank two or three cups were 12% less likely to have the disease.
According to researchers, caffeine could stop skin cancers spreading by stopping cell division, or by acting as an antioxidant.
Around 75,000 cases of non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC), the milder form of the disease, are diagnosed each year.
"The decreased prevalence in non-melanoma skin cancer associated with daily consumption of caffeinated coffee was dose-related and consistent with other studies," London's Daily Telegraph quoted Dr. Ernest Abel, lead author of the study, as saying.
"Among the possible explanations for caffeine's protective effect on NMSC are an antioxidant effect and/or inhibition of DNA synthesis and cell division," he added.
For the study, Abel and colleagues compared rates of NMSC among more than 77,300 white women aged 50 and over. They excluded women of other ethnic origins as they reported much lower rates of the disease.
The researchers said that the findings should apply equally to men and women of all ages.
Drinking decaffeinated coffee had no effect on participants' chances of developing skin cancer, they added.
The study is published in the European Journal of Cancer Prevention.
From the November 19, 2007, Prepared Foods e-Flash