From: Andy Soos, ENN
Published May 25, 2011 04:51 PM

Coffee and Prostate Cancer

Coffee is a brewed drink prepared from roasted seeds, called coffee beans, of the coffee plant. Coffee beans are found in coffee cherries, which grow on trees in over 70 countries, cultivated primarily in Latin America, Southeast Asia, and Africa. Findings have historically been contradictory as to whether coffee has any specific health benefits, and results are similarly conflicting regarding the potentially harmful effects of coffee consumption. Men who regularly drink coffee appear to have a lower risk of developing a lethal form of prostate cancer, according to a new study led by Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) researchers. The lower risk was evident among men who drank regular or decaffeinated coffee.

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Coffee contains several compounds which are known to affect human body chemistry. The coffee bean itself contains chemicals which are mild psychotropics for humans. These chemicals are toxic in large doses, or even in their normal amount when consumed by many creatures which may otherwise have threatened the beans in the wild. Coffee contains caffeine, which acts as a stimulant.

Several benefits have been proposed or identified such as:

-Reduced risk of Alzheimer's disease and Dementia

-Reduced risk of gallstone disease

-Reduced risk of Parkinson disease

-Improved short term recall

-Analgesic (Painkiller)enhancement

-Liver protection

-Reduced cancer risk 

-Moderate reduction of the incidence of dying from cardiovascular disease

-Antioxidant; Coffee contains the anticancer compound methylpyridinium. This compound is not present in significant amounts in other food materials.

However, there are some potential risks.

Over 1,000 chemicals have been reported in roasted coffee, and 19 are known rodent carcinogens; however, most substances cited as rodent carcinogens occur naturally and should not be assumed to be carcinogenic in humans at exposure levels typically experienced in day-to-day life.

Coffee can damage the lining of the gastrointestinal organs, causing gastritis and ulcers. The consumption of coffee is therefore not recommended for people with gastritis, colitis, and ulcers.

Many coffee drinkers are familiar with "coffee jitters", a nervous condition that occurs when one has had too much caffeine. It can also cause anxiety and irritability, in some with excessive coffee consumption, and some as a withdrawal symptom. Coffee can also cause insomnia in some. 

A Harvard study conducted over the course of 20 years of 128,000 people published in 2006 concluded that there was no evidence to support the claim that coffee consumption itself increases the risk of coronary heart disease. The study did, however, show a correlation between heavy consumption of coffee and higher degrees of exposure to other coronary heart disease risk factors such as smoking, greater alcohol consumption, and lack of physical exercise.

The prostate cancer study was published May 17 in an online edition of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

"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," said senior author Lorelei Mucci, associate professor of epidemiology at HSPH.

Lethal prostate cancer is cancer that causes death or spreads to the bones. Prostate cancer is the most frequently diagnosed form of cancer and the second leading cause of cancer death among U.S. men, affecting one in six men during their lifetime. More than 2 million men in the United States and 16 million men worldwide are prostate cancer survivors.

"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," said lead author Kathryn Wilson, a research fellow in epidemiology at HSPH.

The study examined the association between coffee consumption and the risk of prostate cancer, particularly the risk for aggressive prostate cancer, among 47,911 U.S. men in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study who reported their coffee consumption every four years from 1986 to 2008. During the study period, 5,035 cases of prostate cancer were reported, including 642 fatal or metastatic cases.

Among the findings:

- Men who consumed the most coffee (six or more cups daily) had nearly a 20 percent lower risk of developing any form of prostate cancer.

- The inverse association with coffee was even stronger for aggressive prostate cancer. Men who drank the most coffee had a 60 percent lower risk of developing lethal prostate cancer.

- The reduction in risk was seen whether the men drank decaffeinated or regular coffee, and does not appear to be due to caffeine.

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

The results need to be validated in additional populations that have a range of coffee exposure and a large number of lethal prostate cancer cases. If confirmed, the data would add to the list of other potential health benefits of coffee. The authors are planning additional studies to understand specific mechanisms by which coffee may lower the risk of lethal prostate cancer.

For further information: http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2011/05/coffee-tied-to-lower-prostate-cancer-risk/
Photo: http://www.newworldwinemakerblog.com/wp-content/uploads/coffee.jpg

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