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Link Between High Coffee Intake and Lower Prostate Cancer Risk

March 9, 2022
Medically reviewed by Steven N. Gange, MD, Susan Kerrigan, MD and Marianne Madsen on March 8, 2022

There’s some more great news for coffee lovers. If you can’t imagine starting your day without a cup of Joe (or Jane), you might have already learned about some of its health benefits. Along with the oft-touted improvement in focus and energy, coffee consumption has been linked to a reduced risk for Type 2 diabetes and Parkinson’s disease. Recently, an examination of multiple medical studies suggested men who drink the most coffee are the least likely to get prostate cancer. Here’s what the research shows along with other ways men can reduce their risk for a leading cause of cancer death.

 

Prostate Danger Ahead

 

Along with the seminal vesicles, testicles, and penis, the prostate is part of the male reproductive system. Located in front of the rectum and beneath the bladder, this tiny, walnut-sized gland produces the seminal fluid which feeds and transports sperm. As men get older, it often becomes enlarged, which constricts the urethra and affects the flow of urine. However, this condition is not cancerous. 

 

After skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common form of a disease which occurs when genetically damaged cells multiply. With prostate cancer, a certain protein binds to testosterone which encourages tumor growth. Fortunately, most prostate cancers grow extremely slowly. The majority of patients are older men who often don’t need treatment other than watchful waiting once the cancer is identified. 

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Prostate Cancer - Active Surveillance

Prostate Cancer - Active Surveillance

While an estimated one out of eight men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetimes, around 34,500 men in the U.S. die from it each year. That makes it the second most common cancer killer for males after lung cancer. Recently, researchers examined databases and looked at studies involving over one million men in Europe, Japan, and North America. Noting the coffee consumption of participants along with the nearly 58,000 men in the studies who had developed prostate cancer, they looked for a connection.

 

The Coffee-Cancer Connection

 

While cancer is the result of damaged DNA, coffee may contain the weapons to resist the disease. That’s because our proteins and DNA are often damaged from attacks by free radicals. Antioxidants can prevent them from doing damage, and coffee is loaded with these antioxidants. That’s one reason coffee consumption has already been linked to a reduced risk for breast and hepatocellular cancer, along with liver and bowel cancer. However, there hadn’t previously been a clear connection established between drinking coffee and prostate cancer risk. That’s what the meta-analysis hoped to establish. 

 

Looking at the data involving over one million men, the researchers quantified coffee consumption from under two cups up to nine cups per day. They soon identified a pattern. Comparing the lowest to the highest, the men who drank the most coffee enjoyed a nearly ten percent reduction in prostate cancer. Even better, each additional daily cup was associated with a reduction in risk of one percent.

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Wellness - Caffeine

Wellness - Caffeine

The study’s authors concluded that “Increased coffee consumption may be associated with a reduced risk of prostate cancer.” Further, if more research verifies the connection, “…men might be encouraged to increase their coffee consumption to potentially decrease the risk of prostate cancer.” Earlier studies suggesting that drinking more red wine (another great source of antioxidants) can improve ones’ health have been controversial because some believe it promotes increased alcohol consumption. Encouraging coffee drinking, on the other hand, may be greeted with more acceptance. Coffee has become a huge part of American culture (even more so with so many of us working from home and just steps from our carafe.) The usual caveats apply. Avoid drinking coffee six to nine hours before bedtime, as it can interfere with sleep. Watch for increased anxiety or jitteriness.

 

Of course, men who want to prevent prostate cancer have other options. Study after study shows that reduced prostate cancer risk is among the many, many benefits that comes from eating lots of fruit and veggies, exercising regularly, and maintaining a healthy body weight. One other way to reduce the risk for prostate cancer is often left off of medical websites. A study a few years ago concluded that frequency of ejaculation is connected to prostate cancer risk. The more often men in the study ejaculated, the less likely they were to have prostate cancer. So start drinking more coffee and having more orgasms. And you thought advice about how to improve your health was going to be grim and unpleasant.

 

Written by John Bankston

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