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Coffee might drop prostate cancer risk and more is better

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Coffee linked to lower risk of cancer of the prostate.

Drinking coffee, decaffeinated or regular, could lower the chance of prostate cancer. Researchers from Harvard School of Public Health found men who drink six or more cups of coffee a day have a 20 percent lower chance of any form of the disease, but the association was even higher for preventing prostate cancer that metastasizes and is lethal.

The finding comes just after a study release finding coffee lowers the chances of breast cancer.

60% lower prostate cancer risk with coffee

Kathryn Wilson, a research fellow in epidemiology at HSPH says if the study is validated, coffee might be considered a way to modify risk factors for prostate cancer.

In the study, men who drank the most coffee appeared to have a 60 percent lower chance of developing aggressive, lethal cancer of the prostate that spreads to the bones and to other organs.

Wilson says little is known about what puts men at higher risk for the disease, but understanding how to prevent it is crucial.

Cancer of the prostate is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in men in the United States.

How coffee cuts prostate cancer risk isn't entirely clear, however.

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In the study, the type of coffee – decaffeinated or regular – were both associated with lower risk of cancer among the 47,911 U.S. men taking part in the Health Professionals Study, leading researchers to understand the benefits aren’t coming from caffeine, but from some other property of the beverage.

Consuming just one to three cups a day dropped the chances of lethal prostate cancer 30 percent.

In the study the benefits were seen even among men who smoked and didn’t exercise – factors that are normally associated with increased risk of a variety of cancers.

The findings, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, if confirmed, mean drinking coffee might be a recommended prostate cancer prevention tool.

The study found an association between drinking coffee and a 30 to 60 percent lower chance of developing prostate cancer, and an even higher link to especially aggressive disease.

More research is needed to understand how even one cup of coffee a day lowers the chances of cancer of the prostate that is the second leading cause of cancer, affecting one in six men per lifetime. In the current study, six or more cups of the brew daily was found to be even better for cutting cancer risk.

JNCI J Natl Cancer Inst (2011) doi: 10.1093/jnci/djr151
"Coffee Consumption and Prostate Cancer Risk and Progression
in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study"
Kathryn M. Wilson et al
May 17, 2011

Image credit: Morguefile