European Journal of Nutrition

, Volume 56, Issue 1, pp 1–12 | Cite as

Coffee, tea and caffeine intake and the risk of non-melanoma skin cancer: a review of the literature and meta-analysis

  • Saverio CainiEmail author
  • Sofia Cattaruzza
  • Benedetta Bendinelli
  • Giulio Tosti
  • Giovanna Masala
  • Patrizia Gnagnarella
  • Melania Assedi
  • Ignazio Stanganelli
  • Domenico Palli
  • Sara Gandini



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.


Coffee Tea Caffeine Non-melanoma skin cancer Meta-analysis 



Non-melanoma skin cancer


Basal cell carcinoma


Squamous cell carcinoma


Ultraviolet radiation


Meta-analysis of Observational Studies in Epidemiology


Relative risk


Confidence intervals


Summary relative risk


Strengthening the Reporting of Observational Studies


Authors contributions

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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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Saverio Caini
    • 1
    Email author
  • Sofia Cattaruzza
    • 2
  • Benedetta Bendinelli
    • 1
  • Giulio Tosti
    • 3
  • Giovanna Masala
    • 1
  • Patrizia Gnagnarella
    • 4
  • Melania Assedi
    • 1
  • Ignazio Stanganelli
    • 5
  • Domenico Palli
    • 1
  • Sara Gandini
    • 4
  1. 1.Cancer Risk Factors and Lifestyle Epidemiology UnitCancer Research and Prevention Institute (ISPO)FlorenceItaly
  2. 2.Department of Public Health and Infectious Diseases, Faculty of Medicine, Policlinico Umberto I“Sapienza” UniversityRomeItaly
  3. 3.Division of Dermatoncological SurgeryEuropean Institute of OncologyMilanItaly
  4. 4.Division of Epidemiology and BiostatisticsEuropean Institute of OncologyMilanItaly
  5. 5.Skin Cancer UnitScientific Institute of Romagna for the Study and Treatment of Cancer, IRCSS, IRSTMeldolaItaly

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