Coffee, tea and caffeine intake and the risk of non-melanoma skin cancer: a review of the literature and meta-analysis
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Laboratory studies suggested that caffeine and other nutrients contained in coffee and tea may protect against non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC). However, epidemiological studies conducted so far have produced conflicting results.
We performed a literature review and meta-analysis of observational studies published until February 2016 that investigated the association between coffee and tea intake and NMSC risk. We calculated summary relative risk (SRR) and corresponding 95 % confidence intervals (95 % CI) by using random effects with maximum likelihood estimation.
Overall, 37,627 NMSC cases from 13 papers were available for analysis. Intake of caffeinated coffee was inversely associated with NMSC risk (SRR for those in the highest vs. lowest category of intake: 0.82, 95 % CI 0.75–0.89, I 2 = 48 %), as well as intake of caffeine (SRR 0.86, 95 % CI 0.80–0.91, I 2 = 48 %). In subgroup analysis, these associations were limited to the basal cell cancer (BCC) histotype. There was no association between intake of decaffeinated coffee (SRR 1.01, 95 % CI 0.85–1.21, I 2 = 0) and tea (0.88, 95 % CI 0.72–1.07, I 2 = 0 %) and NMSC risk. There was no evidence of publication bias affecting the results. The available evidence was not sufficient to draw conclusions on the association between green tea intake and NMSC risk.
Coffee intake appears to exert a moderate protective effect against BCC development, probably through the biological effect of caffeine. However, the observational nature of studies included, subject to bias and confounding, suggests taking with caution these results that should be verified in randomized clinical trials.
KeywordsCoffee Tea Caffeine Non-melanoma skin cancer Meta-analysis
Non-melanoma skin cancer
Basal cell carcinoma
Squamous cell carcinoma
Meta-analysis of Observational Studies in Epidemiology
Summary relative risk
Strengthening the Reporting of Observational Studies
SC and SG conceived the study, conducted the literature search, and extracted the data. SG performed the statistical analyses. SC drafted the first version of the manuscript. All the authors participated to the writing of the manuscript and critically reviewed and approved its final version.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.
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