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

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.[i] 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.


[i] Liu H1, Hu GHWang XC et al. Coffee consumption and prostate cancer risk: a meta-analysis of cohort studies. Nutr Cancer. 2015 Apr;67(3):392-400.

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