New research suggests your morning coffee could actually be a weapon against skin cancer.

Past studies have found coffee can protect against non-melanoma skin cancers, but its influence on cutaneous melanoma has not been clear, Oxford University Press reported.

To determine this link, researchers used data from the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study. They obtained information on the coffee consumption of 47,357 non-Hispanic white subjects who took a self-administered food-frequency questionnaire taken between 1995 and 1996 with a median follow-up of 20 years. All of the participants were cancer-free at the beginning of the study.

After adjusting for other risk factors, the team found coffee intake was inversely associated with malignant melanoma. They saw a 20 percent decrease in risk in participants who drank four cups of coffee per day when compared with those who drank one or fewer. Some of the risk factors that were adjusted for included "ambient residential ultraviolet radiation exposure, body mass index, age, sex, physical activity, alcohol intake, and smoking history," the researchers reported.

"However, the effect was statistically significant for caffeinated but not decaffeinated coffee and only for protection against malignant melanoma but not melanoma in-situ, which may have a different etiology," the researchers reported.

The researchers noted the findings were preliminary and may not be true for larger populations.

"Because of its high disease burden, lifestyle modifications with even modest protective effects may have a meaningful impact on melanoma morbidity," the researchers concluded.

The findings were published recently in the JNCI: Journal of the National Cancer Institute.