Four cups of coffee a day could help keep womb cancer at bay.
Research has linked regular consumption with lower odds of endometrial cancer, the most common form of the disease.
Women who drank four or more cups a day over many years were 25 per cent less likely to develop the disease than those who limited themselves to less than a cup daily.
Both caffeinated and decaffeinated varieties seemed to help ward off the disease, although tea had no effect, the 26-year study of almost 70,000 women found.
Drunk regularly, coffee may help lower levels of hormones believed to fuel the cancer, the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention reports. Endometrial cancer affects 6,400 British women a year in the UK and kills an estimated 1,000 annually.
Risk goes up with age, weight and with having a mother who had the disease.
The researchers, from Harvard School of Public Health in the U.S., said: ‘Increasing exercise and maintaining normal body weight are probably the most important ways to prevent endometrial cancer.
‘However, additional strategies are needed and dietary habits such as coffee drinking could provide one option.’ They cautioned that adding cream and sugar to the beverage may cancel out the effects, as may smoking.
A total of 672 cases of the cancer, which affects the lining of the uterus, were reported over the 26-year span of the study.
Senior researcher Edward Giovannucci said coffee could help against cancers associated with obesity, insulin and oestrogen, and that it had been shown to improve insulin resistance.
He said: ‘Coffee has already been shown to be protective against diabetes due to its effect on insulin, so we hypothesised that we’d see a reduction in some cancers as well.’
Professor Giovannucci added: ‘Laboratory testing has found that coffee has much more antioxidants than most vegetables and fruits.’