Drinking more coffee can help lower risk of this tough cancer

Oftentimes, whenever a new scientific study is released its findings sound more like a lecture than a revelation. Stop staring at so many screens all day! Sleep no more than nine hours! Sleep no less than seven hours! 

It can be overwhelming trying to keep up with all that, which is why the findings of a new study just released by the British Medical Journal are so refreshing. Chinese researchers have concluded that drinking more coffee may be linked to a lower risk of developing prostate cancer.

Each additional daily cup of coffee a man drinks is associated with a 1% prostate cancer risk reduction. Moreover, men who regularly drink two to nine cups of coffee per day were found to be 9% less likely to develop prostate cancer than men who consume zero to two cups per day on average.

Only men can develop prostate cancer, but this variety of cancer is still among the most common on a global scale and in the United States specifically. It is also the sixth leading cause of cancer-related deaths in men. With that data in mind, it would behoove the dads, brothers, and sons of the world to reach for a third or fourth cup of brew.

Considering how beloved coffee is by millions (if not billions) all over the world, it’s safe to say countless people will be happy to have an excuse to drink some more coffee than usual. 

To reach these conclusions, a team of scientists at the Shengjing Hospital of China Medical University searched through and collected any relevant prior research projects that had focused on prostate cancer and coffee. Ultimately, the team settled on 16 earlier studies. All of those studies originated from various areas of the world; seven were conducted in North America, another seven were held in Europe and two were held in Japan.

Across all 16 studies, over one million men were included. Among that group, 57,732 eventually developed prostate cancer.

Besides the study’s main findings that were mentioned earlier, researchers also looked to assess the impact of coffee consumption on the risk of localized (less severe and more treatable) prostate cancer in comparison to advanced prostate cancer. This investigation led them to estimate that men who drink the most coffee (two to nine cups daily) are 7% less likely to develop localized prostate cancer, 12% less likely to experience advanced prostate cancer, and 16% less likely to be diagnosed with fatal prostate cancer. 

Due to this project’s observational nature, not to mention the fact that multiple earlier studies with varying methodologies were included, this study by its very nature can not establish definitive causation.

“This study suggests that increased coffee consumption may be associated with a reduced risk of prostate cancer. Further research is still warranted to explore the underlying mechanisms and active compounds in coffee,” study authors write. “If the association is further proved to be a causal effect, men might be encouraged to increase their coffee consumption to potentially decrease the risk of prostate cancer.”

So, we’re not quite at the point just yet of doctors the world over telling their male patients to go for the “venti” size at Starbucks. But, there are several confirmed health benefits linked to coffee consumption that gel with these preliminary findings. Coffee has been shown to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, improve glucose metabolism, and affect sex hormone levels. All of those factors have been linked to the development and growth of prostate cancer.

While these specific findings can only be applied to men, that doesn’t mean some extra java can’t benefit women. Earlier studies have produced evidence that coffee consumption may also lower the risk of developing breast, liver, and bowel cancers. 

The full study can be found here, published in BMJ Open.