Sperling Prostate Center

How Do You Take Your Coffee (and Prostate Cancer Risk)?

UPDATE: 12/15/2022
Originally published 4/19/2015

The 2015 blog below explored the association between coffee consumption and prostate cancer (PCa) risk. For men who have never had PCa, coffee appears to offer some protection, and the more coffee you drink, the greater the effect. Now, here’s a different question: what if you already have PCa? Is drinking coffee connected with risk of disease progression? A 2021 study aimed to answer that question.[i] A research team out of University of California/San Francisco gathered data on 1557 PCa patients who had completed a food frequency questionnaire at an average of 28 months since their diagnosis. The team sorted cases according to coffee consumption (total, caffeinated, decaf) and tea (total, non-herbal, herbal). In addition, they factored in smoking (never smoked, had already quit, still smokes). For non smoking coffee drinkers, the news was good. The authors write, “Among non-smoking men diagnosed with localized prostate cancer, moderate coffee and tea consumption was not associated with risk of cancer progression.” However, if you drink coffee AND smoke, the picture is not very rosy. According to the published paper, “… post-diagnostic coffee intake was associated with increased risk of progression among current smokers.” Apparently smoking cancels out any protective effect coffee may have against PCa. Given what we already know about the harms of smoking—not just in the lungs—it is no surprise that even the benefits of coffee drinking as mentioned in the blog below are no match for the ills linked with smoking. If you’re PCa patient and you smoke, if you’re keeping track of reasons to quit, be sure and add this study to your list!


Did you know that the popularity of coffee in Western societies started with 17th century English coffee houses? (And maybe you thought the Brits only drank tea). Did you know that over 400 billion cups of coffee are consumed annually around the globe? Did you know that coffee—whether decaf or regular—provides the highest level of antioxidants per cup than any other beverage?

A single cup of coffee to start your day has several health benefits. Its antioxidants can slow aging and seem to have a preventive effect for a variety of diseases. Coffee is correlated with reduced risk of developing type II diabetes; it may lower the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, and some studies have observed that it may help with patients’ movement issues; there are cardiac benefits to drinking moderate amounts of coffee, including less risk of heart failure.

So, you wonder, what effect might coffee consumption have on prostate cancer risk? A recent study out of Shanghai reported a review of 13 published cohort studies with a cumulative total of 34,105 cases and 539,577 patients.[ii] The authors correlated daily coffee consumption, from highest to lowest intake, with the risk of developing nonadvanced PCa, advanced PCa (spread outside the gland) and fatal disease. Their findings parallel those of a study reported four years ago by a team from the Harvard School of Public Health.

Basically, coffee seems to have a protective effect against developing cancer. The Shanghai study found that even low coffee consumption had a small preventive effect, but PCa risk declined by 2.5% for every additional 2 cups per day. When sorted by geographic region, there was a significantly greater risk reduction among European populations. As with the Harvard School study, the greatest benefit occurs in preventing advanced PCa; they correlated drinking 6 or more cups of coffee daily dropped the chances of developing advanced prostate cancer by 50%.

Both papers concluded with a call for more research. One reason is to validate these findings. Another reason is to identify the exact compounds in coffee that have positive effects, and the exact mechanisms by which they occur. Two noteworthy hypotheses are 1) an anti-inflammatory influence of coffee, since PCa is associated with chronic prostate inflammation, and 2) a moderating effect on insulin production, since high levels of insulin may be connected with increased PCa risk.

If you are a coffee lover, I can’t recommend for or against increasing your consumption. What I can say is that you can enjoy your java even more knowing that among its health benefits is an added shield against prostate cancer.

NOTE: This content is solely for purposes of information and does not substitute for diagnostic or medical advice. Talk to your doctor if you are experiencing pelvic pain, or have any other health concerns or questions of a personal medical nature.

[i] Langlais CS, Chan JM, Kenfield SA, Cowan JE et al. Post-diagnostic coffee and tea consumption and risk of prostate cancer progression by smoking history. Cancer Causes Control. 2021 Jun;32(6):635-644.
[ii] Liu H1, Hu GH, Wang XC et al. Coffee consumption and prostate cancer risk: a meta-analysis of cohort studies. Nutr Cancer. 2015 Apr;67(3):392-400.


About Dr. Dan Sperling

Dan Sperling, MD, DABR, is a board certified radiologist who is globally recognized as a leader in multiparametric MRI for the detection and diagnosis of a range of disease conditions. As Medical Director of the Sperling Prostate Center, Sperling Medical Group and Sperling Neurosurgery Associates, he and his team are on the leading edge of significant change in medical practice. He is the co-author of the new patient book Redefining Prostate Cancer, and is a contributing author on over 25 published studies. For more information, contact the Sperling Prostate Center.

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