Consuming a cup of joe every day, may lower the risk of developing cancer of the throat and in the opening of the mouth, according to a new study by Tohoku University researchers in Japan.

During a 13-year follow-up of more than 38,000 study participants, researchers discovered only 157 cases of cancer of the mouth, pharynx and esophagus. Researchers found that compared with non-coffee drinkers, those who drank one or more cups per day had half the risk of developing these cancers. (Study participants were ages 40 to 64 years with no earlier history of cancer.)

An important note: Those who were also at high risk for these cancers—drinkers and/or smokers—were part of the study as well and coffee had a positive result in their risk for oral cancers. “We had not expected that we could observe such a substantial inverse association with coffee consumption and the risk of these cancers," says Toru Naganuma, lead author, “and the inverse association in high-risk groups for these cancers as well.”

The researchers concluded, “Although cessation of alcohol consumption and cigarette smoking is currently the best known way to help reduce the risk of developing these cancers, coffee could be a preventive factor in both low-risk and high-risk populations.”

Drink up!