Study finds that coffee is linked to reduced tumor growth

Two compounds found in coffee proved to reduce the speed of tumor growth independently but when working in unison the result was remarkable. 

A recent study conducted on mice identified two compounds commonly associated with the popular Arabica coffee bean to potentially curb the growth of treatment-resistant prostate cancer tumors.

The study was first published in the journal Prostate and then presented at the European Association of Urology congress in Barcelona.


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Although the results of the study appear to be limited to transplanted tumor cells as opposed to native tumor cells, the results are promising enough to encourage human trials in the near future.

The shocking impact of bad coffee

The compounds that make up coffee determine both its taste and potential health benefits.

Mycotoxins are toxic compounds born out of the mold that grows on coffee beans. Bitter, unpleasant cups of coffee housing these compounds have been linked to brain damage, cancer, hypertension, and kidney disease. The back and forth regarding the health benefits of coffee belongs chiefly to the degree of mycotoxins commonly found in cheap, low quality coffee. According to a study, 91.7% of green coffee beans are contaminated by mold. 

Conversely, Arabica beans are less susceptible to harmful mold effects than beans found in cheaper commercial brands though exposure it’s not strictly a matter of how expensive a coffee product is. It comes down to the method of production. Beans that are allowed extended time to be exposed to pests and debris are more at risk for mold -born toxins.

The Japanese scientists that helmed the pilot study published in the journal Prostate suspect two compounds, in particular, kahweol acetate and cafestol, to effectively slow down the growth of prostate cancer cells.

Six compounds were tested on 16 mice. Four mice served as the control group, four mice were administered kahweol acetate, four mice were treated with cafestol and four mice were treated with a combination of kahweol acetate and cafestol. Kahweol acetate and cafestol both proved to reduce the speed of tumor growth independently but when working in unison the results were remarkable.

After 11 days, the mice that received no treatment (the control group) experienced tumor growths of about three-and-half times their initial size while the tumors in mice treated with both kahweol acetate and cafestol experienced a tumor growth of about one-and-a-half times their normal size.

On the results, the first author of the study, Dr. Hiroaki says, “We found that kahweol acetate and cafestol inhibited the growth of the cancer cells in mice, but the combination seemed to work synergistically, leading to a significantly slower tumor growth than in untreated mice.”

Professor Atsushi Mizokami cautions consumers against ramping up their coffee diets based on the findings in the journal Prostate  given how green the data is but assures if the information can be confirmed researchers may have “candidates to treat drug-resistant prostate cancer.”


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CW Headley|is a reporter for Ladders and can be reached at cheadley@theladders.com.