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 cancer.

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.


"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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