Seniors’ favorite drink wins again: four or more
cups of coffee a day puts brakes on prostate cancer
Researchers see very big drop in this cancer for
heavy coffee drinkers, but no drop in deaths; also find dangers for some men
Aug. 26, 2013 – The
good news continues for the favorite drink of senior citizens. A new
study found that men who drank four or more cups of coffee per day
experienced a 59 percent reduced risk of prostate cancer recurrence
and/or progression as compared to those who drank only one or fewer cups
They did not, however,
find an association between coffee drinking and reduced mortality from
prostate cancer, although the study by
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
scientists included too few men who died of prostate cancer to address
that issue separately.
Janet L. Stanford, Ph.D.,
co-director of the
Program in Prostate Cancer Research
in the Fred Hutch Public Health Sciences Division, conducted the study
to determine whether the bioactive compounds in coffee and tea may
prevent prostate cancer recurrence and delay progression of the disease.
First study to assess the link between tea and
prostate cancer outcomes
consumption, the researchers did not find an associated reduction of
prostate cancer recurrence and/or progression. The study also did not
draw any conclusions regarding the impact of tea drinking on
“To our knowledge, our
study is the first to investigate the potential association between tea
consumption and prostate cancer outcomes,” the authors wrote.
“It is important to
note, however, that few patients in our cohort were regular tea drinkers
and the highest category of tea consumption was one or more cups per
day. The association should be investigated in future studies that have
access to larger populations with higher levels of tea consumption.”
study involved 1,001 prostate cancer survivors, aged 35-74 years old at
the time of diagnosis (between 2002-2005), who were residents of King
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questions regarding their diet and beverage consumption two years prior
to prostate cancer diagnosis using a validated food frequency
questionnaire, and were interviewed about demographic and lifestyle
information, family history of cancer, medication use and prostate
cancer screening history.
followed up with patients more than five years after diagnosis to
ascertain whether the prostate cancer had recurred and/or progressed.
Those who were still living, willing to be contacted and had been
diagnosed with non-metastatic cancer were included in the follow-up
Of the original 1,001
patients in the cohort, 630 answered questions regarding coffee intake,
fit the follow-up criteria and were included in the final analysis. Of
those, 61 percent of the men consumed at least one cup of coffee per day
and 12 percent consumed the highest amount: four or more cups per day.
The study also
evaluated daily coffee consumption in relation to prostate
cancer-specific death in 894 patients using data from the initial food
frequency questionnaire. After the median follow-up period of
eight-and-a-half years, 125 of the men had died, including 38
specifically from prostate cancer. Daily coffee consumption was not
associated with prostate cancer-specific mortality or other-cause
mortality, but with few deaths these analyses were limited.
“Our study differs
from previous ones because we used a composite definition of prostate
cancer recurrence/progression,” said first author Milan Geybels, a
doctoral student at Maastricht University in the Netherlands who was a
graduate student in Stanford’s Prostate Studies group at Fred Hutch when
the study was conducted.
“We used detailed
information on follow-up prostate-specific antigen levels, use of
secondary treatment for prostate cancer and data from scans and biopsies
to assess occurrence of metastases and cause-specific mortality during
follow up. Using these detailed data, we could determine whether a
patient had evidence of prostate cancer recurrence or progression.”
The results are
consistent with findings from Harvard’s Health Professionals Follow-up
Study, which found that men who drank six or more cups of coffee per day
had a 60 percent decreased risk of metastatic/lethal prostate cancer as
compared to coffee abstainers.
Phytochemicals in coffee have anti-inflammatory
and antioxidant effects
Further research is
required to understand the mechanisms underlying the results of the
study, but biological activities associated with consumption of
phytochemical compounds found in coffee include anti-inflammatory and
antioxidant effects and modulation of glucose metabolism. These
naturally occurring compounds include:
Caffeine, which has properties that inhibit cell growth and encourage
apoptosis, or programmed cell death. Previous studies have found that
caffeine consumption may reduce the risk of several cancer types,
including basal-cell carcinoma, glioma (a cancer of the brain and
central nervous system) and ovarian cancer.
Diterpenes cafestol and kahweol, which may inhibit cancer growth.
Chlorogenic acid, which, along with caffeic acid, can inhibit DNA
methylation, a biochemical process involved in the development and
progression of many cancer types.
Additional studies needed to confirm whether coffee
can prevent cancer recurrence
emphasize that coffee or specific coffee components cannot be
recommended for secondary prevention of prostate cancer before the
preventive effect has been demonstrated in a randomized clinical trial.
Further, there’s ongoing debate about which components in coffee are
anti-carcinogenic, and additional large, prospective studies are needed
to confirm whether coffee intake is beneficial for secondary prevention.
Coffee not always a
safe drink for all men
Coffee drinking may
even be problematic for some men, Geybels said.
“Although coffee is a
commonly consumed beverage, we have to point out that increasing one’s
coffee intake may be harmful for some men. For instance, men with
hypertension may be vulnerable to the adverse effects of caffeine in
coffee. Or, specific components in coffee may raise serum cholesterol
levels, posing a possible threat to coronary health. Patients who have
questions or concerns about their coffee intake should discuss them with
their general practitioner,” he said.
The investigators also
noted limits to their study, which included a lack of data on how coffee
consumption might have changed following diagnosis, whether the coffee
that participants consumed was caffeinated or decaffeinated, and how the
coffee was prepared (espresso, boiled or filtered), a factor that may
affect the bioactive properties of the brew.
The National Cancer
Institute, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Prostate Cancer
Foundation and Dutch Cancer Society funded the research.
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center,
home to three Nobel laureates, interdisciplinary teams of world-renowned
scientists seek new and innovative ways to prevent, diagnose and treat
cancer, HIV/AIDS and other life-threatening diseases. Fred Hutch’s
pioneering work in bone marrow transplantation led to the development of
immunotherapy, which harnesses the power of the immune system to treat
cancer with minimal side effects. An independent, nonprofit research
institute based in Seattle, Fred Hutch houses the nation’s first and
largest cancer prevention research program, as well as the clinical
coordinating center of the Women’s Health Initiative and the
international headquarters of the HIV Vaccine Trials Network.
Private contributions are essential
for enabling Fred Hutch scientists to explore novel research
opportunities that lead to important medical breakthroughs. For more
www.fredhutch.org or follow Fred
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