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Surprise–Coffee Drinkers Have Less Chance of Rosacea

Coffee has a reputation as a rosacea trigger. But data from the Nurses' Health Study suggests that drinking coffee lowers a woman's chance of rosacea.

Rosacea is a skin condition in which the skin flushes or reddens easily and may stay red chronically. People may also develop pimple-like bumps on the skin. People with rosacea are often advised to avoid potential triggers, including going outside when it’s hot in the summer. They are also told not to eat spicy food or drink hot beverages such as coffee. Now, data from the Nurses’ Health Study suggests that women who drink coffee actually have a lower chance of rosacea.

Who Has a Higher Chance of Rosacea?

The study followed more than 80,000 women for 15 years (JAMA Dermatology, Sept. 17, 2018). Information on their diets, including tea, coffee and soda pop consumption, was collected every four years. During that time, nearly 5,000 of the women were diagnosed with rosacea.

Compared to women who drank coffee less than once a month, those who drank four or more cups daily were 23 percent less likely to develop the condition. Decaf coffee, however, was not protective. Neither were tea, caffeinated soft drinks or chocolate. The absolute risk dropped by 132 per 100,000 person/years between the highest and the lowest levels of coffee consumption.

The researchers do not suggest that women should start drinking coffee to avoid rosacea.

Instead, they recommend that doctors stop telling them to avoid coffee:

“Our findings do not support limiting caffeine intake as a means to prevent rosacea.”

It is not quite clear how caffeine from coffee might act to reduce a woman’s chance of rosacea. Expect further research on this question.

Other Benefits of Drinking Coffee:

Lowering your chance of rosacea is not the only health benefit that you may derive from drinking coffee. An earlier study showed that coffee drinkers are less likely to have liver problems.

Researchers have been reporting for years that people who drink regular coffee are less likely to develop type 2 diabetes as well as certain kinds of cancer.

Caf or Decaf for Coffee Drinkers?

Scientists at the National Cancer Institute reported that people who consume at least three cups of either regular or decaffeinated coffee a day usually have lower liver enzyme levels (Hepatology, online Aug. 13, 2014). Patients who drank tea and other sources of caffeine did not have the same benefit.

That suggests that other ingredients in coffee itself, rather than caffeine, could be responsible for the protective effect on the liver. As we have seen, that does not hold for all of coffee’s health effects. Decaf coffee did nothing to reduce the chance of rosacea.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies..
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