Coffee may reduce prostate cancer risk
Men who have a love affair with coffee, but feel guilty about overindulging in it, may have cause to celebrate today. A recent study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health, found that men who consumed the most coffee had the lowest risk of developing prostate cancer, particularly the most fatal forms of the illness: ABC News reports. Experts say more research is needed to confirm the findings, however.
Prostate cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer and the second cause of cancer mortality in men in the United States. The investigation will be of interest to many, as in the US one out of every six men is affected by this disease in their lifetime.
The study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, involved collecting data on 48,000 men every four years from 1986 to 2008. Investigators then evaluated the risk of prostate cancer that correlated to the quantity of coffee consumed. During the 18-year period, they identified 5,035 incidences of prostate cancer of which 642 were metastatic, indicating the disease had advanced beyond the original site.
Those who drank six cups of coffer per day reduced their risk of developing the most aggressive forms of the disease by 60 percent, and any form of the illness by 20 percent. A benefit was even noted in men who drank one to three cups a day, as they cut their risk of contracting the more deadly forms of prostate cancer by 30 percent.
The risk reductions were observed whether the coffee was decaffeinated or caffeinated. After taking into consideration other lifestyle characteristics, such as smoking, obesity and exercise, the lowered risk held firm. Lead researcher Kathryn Wilson considered the findings exciting, US News & World Report notes.
While the specific reason for coffee’s benefit in unclear, scientists have made several postulations. Wilson states that the anti-cancer effect may be due to the high quantity of antioxidants in the beverage. She also notes that coffee appears to have an effect on insulin, which is considered a factor in many cancers. Another possibility is that the beverage influences sex hormone levels.
Regardless of the reason, the findings suggest a link between coffee drinking and a healthier prostate. Wilson contends that further research is needed to determine if a biological explanation exists for the association. She cautions that it is likely too soon to advise someone to begin drinking coffee because of the study.
Beyond a possible benefit for prostate cancer, coffee may offer other advantages as well. One week ago, a Swedish study revealed women who consumed at least five cups of coffee a day had a significantly lower risk of acquiring an aggressive variety of breast cancer. The beverage has also been associated with a reduced risk of diabetes, Parkinson’s disease and liver disease.
Conversely, many experts including Lorelie Mucci, coauthor of the study, are not ready to say that coffee is healthy. It should be noted that high consumption of coffee can cause nervousness, insomnia and heart palpitations.