How Coffee Benefits Your Whole Body – Part II

Last week I told you about the surprising benefits of coffee, but there’s so much to say, I decided to carry it over to this week.

As the weather warms, and you spend more time outdoors during the longer summer days, you may be considering how to cope with the summer sun. But did you know that if you’re worried about your skin, drinking coffee actually reduces your chances of developing one of the most common skin cancers?

Last week’s article talked about coffee’s protections against liver and oral cancers, and its benefits in relieving depression. But coffee seems to provide benefits for just about every part of the body, including your skin, digestive system and brain.

Skin Protection

Research at Harvard shows that drinking more regular coffee (but not decaf) can lower your risk of the most common form of skin cancer, basal cell carcinoma.1 Basal cell carcinoma is a very mild form of skin cancer that results in few deaths. Nonetheless it causes ugly lesions and blemishes, and having the carcinoma surgically removed will leave a scar.

“Our data indicate that the more caffeinated coffee you consume, the lower your risk of developing basal cell carcinoma,” says Jiali Han, Ph.D., associate professor at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School in Boston and Harvard School of Public Health.

Out of the more than 100,000 people involved in the research Han analyzed, about 20 percent developed basal cell carcinoma. He found that consumption of regular coffee (and other caffeinated drinks) was associated with a lower risk of basal cell carcinoma.

“These results really suggest that it is the caffeine in coffee that is responsible for the decreased risk of basal cell carcinoma associated with increasing coffee consumption,” says Han.

Metabolic Boost

Scientists looking into coffee’s effects on metabolic health are still unable to explain exactly why it lowers the risk of type 2 diabetes, but they’re convinced it does. Population studies show that drinking three or four cups of coffee a day reduces your risk of diabetes by up to 25 percent. Research also demonstrates that every additional daily cup of coffee you consume lowers your relative risk of type 2 diabetes by about 8 percent.2

One way coffee is believed to help fight diabetes derives from the way the caffeine in regular coffee increases metabolism and helps burn off sugar. It is also thought (but not proven) that coffee has natural chemicals (in both regular and decaf) that moderate inflammation, reduce oxidative stress and possibly produce hormonal benefits.

Brain Protection

Meanwhile, other scientists have found evidence that caffeinated coffee can protect the brain against Alzheimer’s disease.

When scientists at the University of South Florida (USF) monitored the memory and thinking processes of seniors over the age of 65, they found that those with significant amounts of caffeine in their blood had a better chance of avoiding Alzheimer’s during the two year study (with four years of follow up). In the research, the major (or only) source of caffeine for the folks being studied was coffee.3

“These intriguing results suggest that older adults with mild memory impairment who drink moderate levels of coffee — about 3 cups a day — will not convert to Alzheimer’s disease — or at least will experience a substantial delay before converting to Alzheimer’s,” says researcher Dr. Chuanhai Cao, a neuroscientist at the USF’s College of Pharmacy. “… we firmly believe that moderate coffee consumption can appreciably reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s or delay its onset.

One of the most attractive features of using coffee to boost your health is its low cost. You don’t have to drink a high-priced fancy cup to benefit. A regular cup of plain coffee is loaded with helpful, natural ingredients.