Want to avoid skin cancer? Have another cup of joe. A new study finds coffee guzzlers are less likely to develop the most common type of the disease.

The study of more than 100,000 adults found that those who drank three or more cups of coffee a day had a 20 percent lower risk of basal cell carcinoma than who didn’t drink the beverage at all.

Study author Jiali Han, associate professor of dermatology and epidemiology at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard School of Public Health, said it’s just the latest benefit found for putting on a pot of coffee — previous studies have linked java to a reduced risk of diabetes and Parkinson’s disease.

But since decaf coffee didn’t have the same effect, experts think it’s the caffeine that matters. Dr. Josh Zeichner, assistant professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York, said exposure to ultraviolet light from the sun can damage skin cells’ DNA, and caffeine may help the body kill off those damaged cells — denying them the chance to grow and form cancers.

Basal cell carcinoma affects 2.8 million Americans each year, and while it isn’t lethal, the associated health care cost is substantial, so Dr. Han says that even a “small decrease in the incidence will have a huge benefit for individuals and society.”

[ABC News]