Coffee & prostate cancer
The American Association for Cancer Research Frontiers in Cancer Prevention
Research Conference held December 6-9, 2009 in Houston was the site of a
presentation of the finding that men with a high daily intake of coffee have
a significantly lower risk of advanced and lethal prostate cancer. The
beverage contains antioxidants and minerals as well as caffeine, all of
which could impact cancer risk.
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Postdoctoral fellow Kathryn M. Wilson, PhD of Harvard School of Public
Health and her colleagues at Harvard Medical School's Channing Laboratory
and McGill University in Montreal evaluated data from nearly 50,000
participants in the Health Professionals’ Follow-Up Study. Regular and
decaffeinated coffee intake was assessed from 1986 and every four years
thereafter until 2006. During this time period, 4,975 men developed prostate
While coffee drinking appeared to have a small protective effect on the
overall risk of prostate cancer, with those who consumed 6 or more cups per
day having a 19 percent lower risk compared with those who did not drink
coffee, when advanced and fatal cancers were separately analysed, the risk
of each was 59 percent lower in men who consumed the most coffee, and among
men who had never smoked, the risk was 89 percent lower. Similar results
were observed for both regular and decaffeinated coffee.
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"Few studies have
looked prospectively at this association, and none have looked at coffee and
specific prostate cancer outcomes," noted Dr Wilson. "We specifically looked
at different types of prostate cancer, such as advanced versus localized
cancers or high-grade versus low-grade cancers."
"Very few lifestyle factors have been consistently associated with prostate
cancer risk, especially with risk of aggressive disease, so it would be very
exciting if this association is confirmed in other studies," she remarked.
In an analysis involving a subset of the current study's subjects for whom
blood samples were collected between 1993 and 1995, greater coffee intake
was found to be associated with higher levels of testosterone and serum
hormone binding globulin and with lower plasma levels of C-peptide.
"The strong inverse association between coffee consumption and risk of
lethal and advanced prostate cancers is potentially important and should be
confirmed in other populations," the authors conclude. "The association
appears to be related to non-caffeine components of coffee and may be
mediated through effects on insulin metabolism and/or sex hormone levels."
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