May 18, 2011
2 min read
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Coffee consumption linked to reduced risk for prostate cancer

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Men who regularly drink coffee — either regular or decaffeinated — may have a lower risk for developing lethal prostate cancer, according to researchers at Harvard School of Public Health.

“Few studies have specifically studied the association of coffee intake and the risk of lethal prostate cancer, the form of the disease that is the most critical to prevent. Our study is the largest to date to examine whether coffee could lower the risk of lethal prostate cancer,” Lorelei Mucci, ScD, MPH, associate professor of epidemiology at Harvard School of Public Health, said in a press release.

Mucci and colleagues examined the association between coffee consumption and prostate cancer risk, particularly the risk for aggressive disease, among 47,911 men included in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study. Participants reported their coffee consumption every 4 years from 1986 to 2008. More than 5,000 cases of prostate cancer (n=5,035) were reported during the study period, including 642 fatal or metastatic cases.

In 1986, participants reported an average coffee intake of 1.9 cups. The researchers reported that men who reported consuming six or more cups per day had a nearly 20% reduced risk for developing any form of prostate cancer, and a 60% lower risk for developing lethal prostate disease, according to a press release. Those who drank even one to three cups per day had a 30% lower risk for developing lethal disease.

A reduction in risk was seen in men who drank decaffeinated or regular coffee, and did not appear to be associated with caffeine, the researchers said.

The study controlled for lifestyle factors such as smoking and lack of exercise, behaviors that may increase the risk for advanced disease; however, coffee was still associated with a lower risk among these men.

Currently, the researchers are planning additional studies to understand the mechanism of action responsible for coffee’s association with a lower risk for lethal prostate cancer.

“At present, we lack an understanding of risk factors that can be changed or controlled to lower the risk of lethal prostate cancer. If our findings are validated, coffee could represent one modifiable factor that may lower the risk of developing the most harmful form of prostate cancer,” Kathryn Wilson, ScD, research fellow in epidemiology at Harvard School of Public Health, said in a press release.

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