Two new studies led by Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) researchers provide good news for coffee drinkers, as the research links coffee consumption to reduced risk of heart failure and skin cancer.

The first study, led by Elizabeth Mostofsky, research fellow at HSPH and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, found that drinking one or two cups of coffee daily may help protect against heart failure, but overindulging may lead to serious heart problems. The authors found that consuming about two 8-ounce cups of coffee daily may lower heart failure risk by up to 11 percent. The protective benefits of coffee appear to peak at the level of 16 ounces per day, and slowly decreased as more coffee was consumed. At more than five daily cups, not only was there zero benefit, but a potential for harm.

In the second study, men and women who drink at least three cups of coffee a day were found to have a 20 percent lower risk of developing basal cell carcinoma than non-coffee drinkers. Basal cell carcinoma is a skin cancer that affects 2.8 million Americans annually. Senior author Jiali Han, associate professor in epidemiology at HSPH, and other researchers studied approximately 113,000 men and women who drank three or more cups of coffee a day. Decaffeinated coffee did not have the same benefit, they found, pointing to caffeine as the protective agent. Caffeine from cola and chocolate also appeared to decrease risk for basal cell carcinoma.

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