The next time someone gives you shit about your coffee addiction, you don't have to lie about how many cups you've had: A new study conducted by researchers at Imperial College London in the U.K. suggests that three or four cups of coffee a day could reduce your risk of endometrial cancer by upwards of 19 percent.
To pinpoint potential cancer-fighters, researchers examined the diets and health records of more than 456,000 women, including 1,303 women with endometrial cancer involved in the European Prospective Investigation Into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) study, and 1,531 women with endometrial cancer involved in the Nurses' Health Study (NHS) or Nurses' Health Study II (NHSII).
First, the researchers looked at 84 foods and nutrients consumed by women in the EPIC study. Ten stood out: total fat, monounsaturated fat, phosphorus, carbohydrates, yogurt, butter, potatoes, cheese, cream desserts, and coffee all appeared to affect people's risk of cancer, for better or for worse.
Next, researchers looked for those foods in dietary records collected in NHS and NHSII, and this time, only coffee stood out: Women in the EPIC study who drank three cups of coffee per day had a 19 percent lower risk of endometrial cancer than women who drank less than one cup per day, and women in the NHS studies who drank four cups of coffee per day had an 18 percent lower risk of cancer than women who never drank coffee.
While the data is pretty convincing (and the world could always use another reason to love coffee), this research only shows a correlation, not causation. Researchers still don't know exactly how coffee could reduce the risk of cancer. (It could have something to do with the antioxidants in coffee, or the way that coffee affects your hormonal balance—when your body has more estrogen than progesterone, you're more likely to develop endometrial cancer, according to the American Cancer Society.)
Another thing: The data collected didn't break down coffee consumption by caffeine content, so researchers don't know whether decaf and regular coffee are equally effective. Either way, three or four cups of coffee is kind of a lot—especially if you're sensitive to caffeine or if you only like the ~*fAnCy*~ stuff, which can really do a number on your bank account. But until more research is done? You can rest assured that there are worse things than a coffee cup that's almost always full.
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.