Potential health benefits of coffee for prostate health revealed in new Harvard study.
Coffee Health Benefits Found in Regular or Decaf Coffee
According to a new study led by Harvard School of Public Health researchers, men in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study who regularly drank coffee appear to have had a lower risk of developing a lethal form of prostate cancer. What’s more, the lower risk was evident among the men studied who drank either regular or decaffeinated coffee.
The study was published May 17, 2011, in an online edition of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
Learn more about coffee health benefits: Coffee Linked to Reduced Stroke Risk in Women
Benefits of Coffee for Cancer Risk Studied
“Few studies have specifically studied the association of coffee intake and the risk of lethal prostate cancer, the form of the disease that is the most critical to prevent. Our study is the largest to date to examine whether coffee could lower the risk of lethal prostate cancer,” said senior author Lorelei Mucci, associate professor of epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health. Lethal prostate cancer is cancer that causes death or spreads to the bones.
Prostate cancer is the most frequently diagnosed form of cancer and the second leading cause of cancer death among U.S. men, affecting one in six men during their lifetime. More than 2 million men in the U.S. and 16 million men worldwide are prostate cancer survivors.
More Studies on Health Benefits of Coffee and Cancer Risk Needed
“At present we lack an understanding of risk factors that can be changed or controlled to lower the risk of lethal prostate cancer. If our findings are validated, coffee could represent one modifiable factor that may lower the risk of developing the most harmful form of prostate cancer,” said lead author Kathryn Wilson, a research fellow in epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health.
Coffee Health Benefits—Antioxidant and Anti inflammatory Effects
The researchers chose to study coffee because it contains many beneficial compounds that act as antioxidants, reduce inflammation, and regulate insulin, all of which may influence prostate cancer. Coffee has been associated in prior studies with a lower risk of Parkinson’s disease, type 2 diabetes, gallstone disease, and liver cancer or cirrhosis.
More on coffee health benefits: Coffee Talk: How Coffee or Tea Helps Prevent Diabetes
Coffee Consumption and Risk of Prostate Cancer Studied
The study examined the association between coffee consumption and the risk of prostate cancer, particularly the risk for aggressive prostate cancer among 47,911 U.S. men in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study who reported their coffee consumption every four years from 1986 to 2008. During the study period, 5,035 cases of prostate cancer were reported, including 642 fatal or metastatic cases.
Among the findings on the participants in the study:
· Men in the study who consumed the most coffee (six or more cups daily) had nearly a 20% lower risk of developing any form of prostate cancer.
· The inverse association with coffee was even stronger for aggressive prostate cancer. Men in the study who drank the most coffee had a 60% lower risk of developing lethal prostate cancer.
· The reduction in risk was seen whether the men in the study drank decaffeinated or regular coffee, and does not appear to be due to caffeine.
· Even drinking one to three cups of coffee per day was associated with a 30% lower risk of lethal prostate cancer for the men in the study.
· Coffee drinkers in the study were more likely to smoke and less likely to exercise, behaviors that may increase advanced prostate cancer risk. These and other lifestyle factors were controlled for in the study and coffee still was associated with a lower risk.
Further Research on Coffee Health Benefits and Cancer Risk Planned
The results from this study need to be validated in additional populations that have a range of coffee exposure and a large number of lethal prostate cancer cases. If confirmed, the data would add to the list of other potential health benefits of coffee. The authors currently are planning additional studies to understand specific mechanisms by which coffee may specifically lower the risk of lethal prostate cancer.
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“Coffee Consumption and Prostate Cancer Risk and Progression in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study,” Kathryn M. Wilson, Julie L. Kasperzyk, Jennifer R. Stark, Stacey Kenfield, Rob M. van Dam, Meir J. Stampfer, Edward Giovannucci, Lorelei A. Mucci, Journal of the National Cancer Institute, online May 17, 2011.
The study was supported by the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health, the American Institute for Cancer Research, and the Prostate Cancer Foundation.
Harvard School of Public Health is dedicated to advancing the public’s health through learning, discovery and communication. More than 400 faculty members are engaged in teaching and training the 1,000-plus student body in a broad spectrum of disciplines crucial to the health and well being of individuals and populations around the world. Programs and projects range from the molecular biology of AIDS vaccines to the epidemiology of cancer; from risk analysis to violence prevention; from maternal and children’s health to quality of care measurement; from health care management to international health and human rights.