Habitual coffee drinkers had about half the risk of dying from cancers of the mouth and pharynx than others who never drank coffee or only had it occasionally, the researchers found.
Lead author Janet Hildebrand and colleagues from the American Cancer Society (ACS) in Atlanta, Georgia, write about their findings in a paper published online in the American Journal of Epidemiology.
However, the researchers say their findings need to be confirmed by more research.
Previous epidemiological studies have suggested coffee drinking is linked to a reduced risk for mouth and throat cancer.
It has also been suggested it may not be the caffeine in coffee, but the fact it is rich in antioxidants, polyphenols, and other compounds, that help prevent or slow the development of cancer.
For their study, Hildebrand and colleagues used data from the Cancer Prevention Study II, a prospective US cohort study that the ACS started in 1982. That study gathered lifestyle and health information on 968,432 men and women, including their tea and coffee consumption. When they enrolled on the study, none of the participants had cancer, but in the 26 years of follow up, 868 died from oral/pharyngeal cancer.
When they analysed the tea and coffee consumption in relation to deaths from oral/pharyngeal cancer, the researchers found those participants who reported drinking more than four cups of caffeinated coffee a day had a 49% lower risk of death from oral/pharyngeal cancer compared to those who reported not drinking coffee at all or only an occasional cup.