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


Coffee and Breast Cancer: The Latest Study

Stories on coffee and cancer have been around a long time. First, starting in the early 1980s, researchers began investigating if coffee increased our risk of pancreatic cancer. Now, after a lot of research, evidence suggests that coffee does not increase risk for the majority of cancers with some studies suggesting it offers protection.

The latest study on coffee and cancer points toward the protection side. The Swedish study suggests that drinking plenty of coffee every day may lower the risk of ER-negative breast cancer, a form of breast cancer difficult to treat.

The study was published online in the current issue of Breast Cancer Research.

Continue reading