Coffee links to lower risk of cancer and early death says new analysis

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That daily cup – or more – of coffee may boost your health by reducing your risk of several types of cancer, heart disease and even early death, says a new review of the evidence. This matters because even a small benefit from coffee could significantly impact Americans’ health with over 60% of US adults drinking coffee daily, according to a National Coffee Association survey.

AICR’s research shows that drinking coffee reduces risk for endometrial and liver cancer. Coffee contains a variety of compounds that can block carcinogens, reduce cancer cell growth and promote cancer cell death.

In the study published last month in the British Medical Journal, researchers conducted an umbrella review that included 201 meta-analyses looking at coffee’s effect on several health outcomes in different populations around the world. Health outcomes included cancer, cardiovascular disease, and early death from all causes. 

The authors found that people consuming 3 cups a day – either regular or decaffeinated coffee – had a 17% risk reduction for earlier death compared to those drinking no coffee. And adults who drank the most coffee had lower rates of cancer in general compared to non-coffee drinkers. In looking at specific cancers, the researchers found links to several types, including prostate, endometrial and liver.

The data also showed coffee associated with lower risk of Parkinson’s disease, depression and cognitive disorders. The authors say that although coffee appears generally safe within usual intake levels, caution is advised for pregnant women. In their analyses, the highest consumption of coffee was associated with higher risk for low birth rate, preterm birth and pregnancy loss. The authors also report that some analyses found increased risk for bone fracture in women, though they say more and stronger evidence is needed to confirm that.

AICR’s Director of Research, Dr. Nigel Brockton, explains that this study is a review of meta-analyses. Meta-analyses are a statistical method used to summarize the results from a number of existing research studies. As such, it’s important to note that this study depends on the strength of the original research. To account for this and make this review stronger the authors re-analysed the original meta-analyses and rigorously assessed the quality of each analysis, using several techniques, to obtain the best possible estimates of the effect of coffee on the selected health outcomes.

It’s important to remember that coffee with lots of added sugar, syrups and fat turn a no-calorie beverage into a dessert. AICR’s research shows that sugary beverages lead to overweight and obesity, which in turn increases risk for 11 types of cancer. So avoid the calorie loaded specialty coffee drinks like frappuccinos, and be skimpy with calorie boosting additions like cream and sugar.

Get more tips on preparing the perfect cup coffee and learn about the research at AICR’s Foods that Fight Cancer.

The authors report they received no specific grant from any funding agency for this study.


Author: Alice RD

Alice G. Bender, MS, RDN, is the Director of Nutrition Programs at AICR. She helps put the science of cancer prevention into action by providing tips and tools to choose nutritious and delicious foods. Alice has guided thousands of individuals to healthier lives through diet changes and choices.

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