Drink coffee to reduce rosacea risk, research finds
A long term study reveals caffeine is linked to lower rates of chronic skin condition. Samantha Page reports.
A new study finds that caffeine from coffee is associated with a reduced risk of rosacea – a common chronic skin condition that causes intense redness on the face, sometimes accompanied by pimples or pustules.
The study, led by Wen-Qing Li of Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, US, is published in the journal JAMA Dermatology. It shows “a significant inverse association between risk of rosacea and increased caffeine intake, particularly that from coffee” among participants, all women, who recorded what they ate and drank over four years as part of the Nurses’ Health Study II – a long-term, large cohort project that has been running since 1989.
Among women who drank four or more cups of coffee a day, the incidence of rosacea was significantly lower than for those who drank less than one cup a month.
The findings contradict a common myth that people with the condition should avoid the beverage because it can cause flare-ups.
“Our findings do not support limiting caffeine intake as a means to prevent rosacea and may have implications for the causes of and clinical approach to rosacea,” Li and colleagues write.
This is just the most recent study that points to the benefits of coffee drinking. A study last year found that coffee drinkers live longer. Another from 2015 found that coffee decreases the risk of melanoma.
“Who does not love a study that validates one of life’s habitual pleasures?” Mackenzie Wehner writes University of Pennsylvania dermatologist of the rosacea study in an editorial in the same journal.
“This study provides evidence that patients with rosacea need not avoid coffee, and it offers all of us one more reason to continue drinking coffee regularly,” she adds.
“From a nutritional epidemiology standpoint, the case for drinking coffee is strong.”
Then again, nothing is perfect. Other studies have pointed to coffee downsides, including an increased risk of heart attack for young people with hypertension.
Li’s team did not find a decrease in rosacea associated with other sources of caffeine, such as tea, soda, or chocolate, nor did they find an association between rosacea and intake of decaffeinated coffee.
The study’s authors speculate on several possible mechanisms that account for the reduced risk of the condition.
Caffeine is a vasoconstrictor, meaning it causes blood vessels to contract, which could reduce inflammation. It also has immunosuppressant effects and antioxidant agents, which could reduce inflammation.
Rosacea itself could also be related to hormonal causes, and caffeine can affect levels of adrenaline, noradrenaline, and cortisol, the study says.