The Genes in Your Coffee (and Cancer-Protective Compounds)

Quick: what do tea, chocolate and coffee all have in common? There’s actually a lot they share – including many cancer-protective compounds – but for all who answered caffeine, that’s the big one.CoffeeBeansCup_dreamstime_13158097_blog

Now a research team has sequenced a draft of the genome of the coffee plant, finding that the caffeine compound has probably evolved independently of tea or chocolate. The researchers sequenced the plant Coffea canephora, which reportedly accounts for almost a third of the world’s coffee production.

The study was published on Friday in Science.

In all, the scientists identified about 25,000 protein-producing genes in the plant. (Humans have approximately 21,000 genes.) When they compared the coffee genome to the DNA of tea and chocolate they found coffee’s caffeine enzymes are more closely related to other genes within the coffee plant than to caffeine enzymes in tea and chocolate.

Compared to the grape and tomato, the coffee plant contains larger families of genes that relate to the production of flavonoid and other compounds, which contribute to the smell of coffee and are studied for their health benefits. Continue reading


Study: Coffee Lowers Risk of Liver Cancer

A recent analysis on coffee possibly protecting against liver cancer has nudged its way into the headlines today, adding to the good news for coffee lovers.

Last month, AICR’s continuous update report on endometrial cancer found that coffee protected against this cancer. It wCoffee still lifeas a modest reduction  – 7 percent lower for that first cup of coffee. But it was the first time there was enough evidence for AICR to conclude that coffee reduced the risk of a cancer.

This latest study on coffee and liver cancer was published in the Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology.

Study researchers looked for all relevant human studies between 1966 and 2012, ending up with 16. Analyzed together, drinking any amount of coffee linked to a 40 percent lower risk of liver cancer compared to those who did not drink. Higher amounts linked to lower risk.

And compared to non-coffee drinkers, there was a 20 percent lower risk for that first daily cup. Continue reading


Study: Antioxidants from Our Coffee and Diet May Cut Prostate Cancer Risk

Research now shows that men can reduce their risk of prostate cancer by eating foods containing lycopene and selenium, two phytochemicals that act as antioxidant in our body. Now a large new study that suggests men get over a quarter of their antioxidants from coffee has found that consumingCoffeeBeansCup_dreamstime_13158097_smallplenty of antioxidants from our diet has a weak link to reduced prostate cancer risk.

The study – supported in part by AICR – was published in the International Journal of Cancer last week.

For the study, almost 48,000 men answered questions about what they ate, drank and the supplements they took, starting in 1986 and then every four years. Researchers calculated antioxidant intake by assigning a value to each food or supplement.

Overall, coffee was supplying the men with 28 percent of their total antioxidants; fruits and vegetables were giving the men 23 percent; and dietary supplements another 23 percent. Continue reading


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