Coffee May Lower the Risk of Prostate Cancer
May 10, 2010
by David Gutierrez
Men who drink coffee regularly may reduce their risk of the most dangerous form of prostate cancer, according to a study conducted by researchers from Harvard Medical School and presented at a Houston conference of the American Association for Cancer Research.
Prostate cancer kills more than 27,000 men in the United States each year, making it the second deadliest cancer in men, surpassed only by lung cancer. Roughly 200,000 new cases are diagnosed in the country each year.
“Few studies have looked prospectively at this association, and none have looked at coffee and specific prostate cancer outcomes,” said lead researcher Kathryn Wilson. “We specifically looked at different types of prostate cancer, such as advanced vs. localized cancer or high-grade vs. low-grade cancers.”
Researchers studied 50,000 men between 1986 and 2006, recording their coffee consumption once every four years. They found that the rate of advanced prostate cancer was 60 percent lower in those who drank six or more cups of coffee per day than in those who never consumed the beverage. Those who drank between four and five cups per day lowered their risk by 25 percent, while those who drank one to three cups lowered it by 20 percent.
The same risk reduction was seen regardless of whether the men drank caffeinated or non-caffeinated coffee.
No relationship was seen between coffee consumption and the risk of developing prostate cancer, only the risk of developing cancer that eventually progressed into an advanced stage. This might explain why prior studies have found no connection between coffee drinking and prostate cancer risk.
The researchers are unsure exactly how coffee affects cancer risk, although it may have something to do with levels of the sugar-regulating hormone insulin. High insulin levels have previously been correlated with prostate cancer risk, and coffee has been shown to increase the body’s use of the hormone.
Coffee is one of the most popular beverages in the world. It is consumed by 54 percent of U.S. adults.