Categorized | Prostate Health

Six Cups or More of Coffee May Lower Men’s Risk for Prostate Cancer

New research suggests that men who drink six or more cups of coffee a day may be lowering their risk for advanced prostate cancer by 60 percent.

Kathryn Wilson, a research fellow in epidemiology at Harvard School of Public Health in Boston and lead researcher for this study said “There are a lot of compounds in coffee that have various biological effects.  It’s a major source of antioxidants and that might have anti-cancer effects.  Coffee also seems to have effects on insulin which has been associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes and insulin is thought to play a role in many cancers, including prostate cancer. Compounds in coffee also have an impact on sex hormone levels.”

For the study, the researchers collected data on almost 48,000 men who took part in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study in 1986 and followed them until 2008. Every four years these men reported on how much coffee they drank.

The researchers then calculated the risk for prostate cancer tied to the amount of coffee consumed. During the period of the study, they identified 5,035 cases of prostate cancer, of which 642 were fatal cases in which the cancer was metastatic, meaning that it had spread beyond the original site.

The Harvard team found that drinking six or more cups of coffee each day was associated with an almost 20 percent lower risk of developing prostate cancer, compared to those who did not drink coffee.

In addition, the odds of developing a more lethal or advanced prostate cancer dropped by 60 percent, compared to men who abstained from coffee – a statistically significant and “substantially lower” relative risk, according to the researchers.

Even men who drank less coffee — one to three cups a day — had a 30 percent lower risk of developing lethal prostate cancer, and reductions in risk were observed whether the men drank caffeinated or decaffeinated coffee.

After taking into account other lifestyle factors, such as age, smoking, obesity and exercise, the decline in the odds for prostate cancer remained.

The study was limited by self reported data and the lack of data on coffee intake from earlier periods of the men’s lives, the researchers noted.

Right now the study findings point only to an association between coffee and a healthier prostate. More study will be needed to confirm the findings and to see if a biological explanation for the phenomenon exists.

The finding comes on the heels of a published Swedish study that found that women who drank five or more cups of coffee per day saw a significant drop in their risk for a particularly aggressive form of breast tumor.

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