AICR-Supported Study: Coffee Cuts Risk of Lethal Prostate Cancer

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Whether men drink caffeinated or decaf coffee, a large new AICR-supported study suggests that men who consistently drink a lot of it may reduce their risk of the most lethal form of prostate cancer.

The study was published in the online edition of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Previous studies on coffee and prostate cancer have found neither increased nor decreased risk. The new JNCI study is unique in that it focused on the advanced form of the disease and is the largest to date.

This study tracked almost 48,000 U.S. men who reported how much coffee they drank every four years from 1986 to 2008. During the study period, 5,035 cases of prostate cancer were reported, including 642 fatal cases.

For all forms of prostate cancer, the study found that men who consumed six or more cups of coffee daily had nearly a 20 percent lower risk than non-drinkers. When focusing only on the deadly form of prostate cancer, the protective association was even stronger. Men who drank the most coffee had a 60 percent lower risk of developing lethal prostate cancer compared to non-coffee drinkers.

Even drinking one to three cups of coffee per day was associated with a 30 percent lower risk of lethal prostate cancer.

The study was led by Harvard School of Public Health researchers.

Because the protective link held for both decaffeinated and caffeinated coffee, the researchers hypothesize that the effect may be due to coffee’s many healthful compounds that act as antioxidants, reduce inflammation, and regulate insulin.

This is one of many recent studies on the coffee-cancer risk connection making news – here was one last week on breast cancer – and given this study’s results, more research is sure to follow.

But as the authors point out, more research is needed before making any firm conclusion on coffee and prostate cancer risk.

In looking at all the evidence relating to coffee and cancer risk, AICR’s 2007 report judged coffee unlikely to have any effect on the risk of pancreatic or kidney cancer – the two cancers for which there was enough evidence to make a conclusion.


Author: Mya Nelson

Mya R. Nelson is at American Institute for Cancer Research, where she writes about the research in the field.

3 thoughts on “AICR-Supported Study: Coffee Cuts Risk of Lethal Prostate Cancer”

  1. Great news! And quite timely as I’ve upped my daily dosage recently.

    On a more serious note, does non-lethal prostate cancer require treatment or is it similar to a benign growth?

    1. The authors define lethal prostate cancers as cancers that caused death or spread (metastasized) to the bone before the end of the study. So any form of non-lethal prostate cancer in the study included advanced prostate cancer as well as nonadvanced stages of prostate cancer. (Either form might require treatment but treatment wasn’t the focus of this study.)

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