Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Biotech

Coffee Wards Off Cancer 286

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the thats-my-excuse dept.
Thorfinn.au writes "A new study indicates that heavy coffee drinking staves off deadly prostate cancer in men. Some 47,911 US men were surveyed over the period 1986 to 2008 for the research. During this time some 5,035 of them developed prostate cancer with 642 dying of it. According to analysis by investigating scientists, men who drank the most coffee (a fairly normal six-plus cups per day) had a 20 per cent lower risk of developing any kind of prostate cancer. If they did get prostate cancer, the java-swillers were much less likely to die from it than others: their risk of deadly prostate cancer was no less than 60 per cent lower than normal. Even less thirsty coffee drinkers who only put away one to three cups daily saw their chance of deadly prostate cancer fall by a useful 30 per cent."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Coffee Wards Off Cancer

Comments Filter:
  • by pz (113803) on Wednesday May 18, 2011 @09:14AM (#36164668) Journal

    According to the interview with one of the study's authors on NPR today, one of the very important factors is that decaf works as well. Which is to say, the measured benefit probably is not from caffeine.

    • by mellon (7048)

      Ah, but decaf never tastes as good...

      (delightedly wanders off to make some happy juice...)

      • by PingSpike (947548)

        Does it? I thought caffeine caused the bitter flavor associated with coffee. I suppose one could argue that is desirable.

        • by spun (1352)

          While caffeine is bitter, it is not the major component of the bitter flavor in coffee, which actually comes from tannins. Tannins take longer to extract than other flavor compounds, so be sure that you do not steep your coffee for longer than six minutes, Most drip coffee makers take at least eight minutes to brew, guaranteeing a bad cup of coffee. I have found that pre-heating the water before putting it in an automatic drip coffee maker can reduce the time it takes to brew. I use an electric kettle, and

      • by Talennor (612270)

        What's up with that? There's no reason for it. There's so many kinds of coffee, from single origin, to exact roasting times, to flavored. And then there's decaf. Plain old decaf. I'm trying to cut down my caffeine intake, but it's hard.

    • The association appears to be related to non-caffeine components of coffee.

      - from the linked-to abstract.

    • by eldavojohn (898314) * <.moc.liamg. .ta. .nhojovadle.> on Wednesday May 18, 2011 @09:44AM (#36165026) Journal

      According to the interview with one of the study's authors on NPR today, one of the very important factors is that decaf works as well. Which is to say, the measured benefit probably is not from caffeine.

      Indeed. Here's a PDF of the paper [wordpress.com] which has all the actual numbers. It also lists in their conclusions several possible investigation routes:

      Coffee contains chlorogenic acids (CGAs), which inhibit glucose absorption in the intestine and may favorably alter levels of gut hormones, which affect insulin response (1). Quinides, the roasting products of CGAs, inhibit liver glucose production in experimental models (1). Coffee also contains lignans, phytoestrogens with potent antioxidant activity, which may have positive effects on glucose handling (37). In humans, coffee drinking has been cross- sectionally associated with lower glucose levels after oral glucose loads and better insulin sensitivity (38–40). A cross-sectional study in women found a negative correlation between coffee consumption and circulating C-peptide, a marker of insulin secretion (41). Insulin may promote tumor progression through the insulin and insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) receptors in cancer cells. Insulin levels have been associated with a greater risk of cancer progression or mortality among men diagnosed with prostate cancer (9–11), even though insulin has been unassociated (12,13) or inversely associated (14) with overall incidence. Coffee is a major source of antioxidants and is estimated to provide half of total antioxidant intake in several populations (2,3). Coffee has been associated with improved markers of inflammation in cross-sectional studies and in a recent trial (4,42,43). Inflammation is hypothesized to play a role in the development of prostate cancer through the generation of proliferative inflammatory atrophy lesions (15). Various dietary antioxidants may reduce inflammation and have been associated with lower risk of advanced prostate cancer (44,45). Coffee drinking may be associated with increased sex hormone–binding globulin (SHBG) and total testosterone levels (5). One study in Greek men found a positive association with estradiol levels but not with SHBG or testosterone (6), whereas another found no association between coffee and sex hormones in young Greek men (7). Coffee has been consistently associated with higher SHBG levels in women (46–49). Sex hormones play a role in prostate cancer, though the relationships between circulating levels within normal ranges and risk have been difficult to elucidate. It has been hypothesized that although testosterone is necessary for the initial development of prostate cancer, it may limit progression of the disease (50,51). A pooled analysis of 18 prospective studies found an inverse association between SHBG levels and prostate cancer risk (51).

    • by rwa2 (4391) *

      According to the interview with one of the study's authors on NPR today, one of the very important factors is that decaf works as well. Which is to say, the measured benefit probably is not from caffeine.

      Yeah... TFA says they adjust for "potential confounding by smoking, obesity, and other variables" ... but I wonder what some of those other variables and more importantly control groups are.

      I'd be curious if it simply works with water... 6+ cups of coffee sounds awfully close to the 8 cups minimum daily recommended servings of water daily. I'd suspect the people at risk of developing prostate cancer simply don't drink enough, period.
      (eww, there's a gross non-sequitur)

    • by tnk1 (899206)

      Damn, I was hoping to avoid drinking burnt dirt water for this benefit. Maybe they will make a pill or something.

    • by wiedzmin (1269816)
      Or, you know, this could all just be coincidental. Statistics are great when you need to use them to your advantage, but can really mean squat if the sample size is not large and diverse enough.

      Anyhow, if that is true, I don't know what I would rather die from - butt cancer or heartburn after drinking 6 cups of coffee a day :)
  • Wards off cancer? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by NickstaDB (2006530) on Wednesday May 18, 2011 @09:14AM (#36164676) Homepage
    What doesn't? Then a week later the media is full of reports that it gives you cancer or vice versa..!
    • Well coffee has the distinct advantage in that if you drink 100 cups, you can move at nearly the speed of light. Or so I saw on a show once.
    • The difference here is that for years scientists (in particular nutritionists) have been telling us that drinking a lot of coffee is bad for us and doing studies to try and prove it. Gradually, bit by bit, the studies have been coming back showing that not only is coffee not bad for us, it is actually good for us. For every study that shows that coffee has some minor negative health affect, there are two studies showing that coffee has some significant positive health affect. Sometime in the last 10 years t
      • Re:Wards off cancer? (Score:5, Informative)

        by interkin3tic (1469267) on Wednesday May 18, 2011 @11:16AM (#36166340)

        Sometime in the last 10 years they finally gave up on the idea that coffee is bad for us.

        That's not really how research works, even in nutrition. You get a result, you publish it if you have reason to think it's real. Researchers don't get together and decide they're going to publish results saying coffee good or coffee bad. For one thing, researchers LOVE to overturn previous models and results. You don't get attention or much funding for "We did a study and it showed exactly what everyone expected it would show." For another, conclusions should come from results and not vice versa. Some researchers have enough integrity to discard their theories and hypotheses when results disagree with what they think. Others just realize that if they get a result that proves them wrong, someone else will eventually, and it's better to prove yourself wrong first than someone else do it later.

        The researchers here are undoubtedly not drawing any broad conclusions like "coffee is good for you," they're just saying it might prevent some forms of cancer. Any overarching conclusions like that are made by people who want the TL:DR version. Realistically, any chemical you put into your body that doesn't kill you right away is going to have good AND bad effects, and it's up to doctors and you yourself to weigh whether it's an overall good thing or bad thing. Coffee probably encourages other forms of cancer while preventing some forms and waking you up. No one has given up on the idea that coffee has some of those negative effects, just as no one was convinced coffee was entirely bad for you.

  • It was in the Daily Mail!

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Wednesday May 18, 2011 @09:17AM (#36164732) Journal
    Coffee contains a known psychoactive stimulant, one which many people find pleasant. This makes it a drug. Drugs are axiomatically evil(unless associated with rugged American individualism and/or cowboys). Therefore, coffee cannot possibly have any positive effects. Scientists! Get back to the lab and produce better results.
    • by Nidi62 (1525137)

      Drugs are axiomatically evil(unless associated with rugged American individualism and/or cowboys).

      What do you think cowboys drank on cattle drives and other long trips? Coffee

      • by stanlyb (1839382)
        Nope, they did not. They ATE coffee, which amplifies the effect. Just for the record.
    • by xclr8r (658786)
      You are forgetting that if it makes some one work longer or harder for the bottom line then it is encouraged until you are burnt out and tossed aside for the next caffeine junky.
    • by Lundse (1036754)

      "We meant those other drugs. Those untaxed drugs. Those are the ones that are bad for you."

      • by timeOday (582209)
        It is pretty foolish to lump coffee in with crack just because the umbrella word "drug" covers both. The risk/benefit ratio of one says nothing about the other. (It would make more sense to pick on alcohol, which is a commonly used drug with devastating effects for some users).
  • a study without a null - hypothesis tested!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Null_hypothesis [wikipedia.org]

  • I don't like coffee. I've tried it, hated it, and have no intention of "learning to like it".

    Fortunately there's another well-established way of warding off prostate cancer, which I enjoy quite a bit.

    • Fortunately there's another well-established way of warding off prostate cancer, which I enjoy quite a bit.

      The preparation is a little more of a chore though, no?

  • With coffee - broccoli, green/black/white tea, soybeans, red grapes, turmeric, rosemary, garlic, berries and eating a plant-based high-fiber diet helps as well to ward-off cancer.
  • Between the coffee and the masturbation, my prostate is safe as houses. I've just read that my heart loves booze [arstechnica.com], too. Everything's amazing now!
  • Three times is enemy action. Coffee has so many widely reported health benefits, it makes me wonder if some coffee growers association has discovered that it's killing people.
  • Disappointing that they didn't track hot tea drinkers as well. It would be interesting to know if this was associated with generally being better hydrated, or something specific to coffee. // just switched to green tea from coffee

    • by loftwyr (36717)

      As caffeine is a diuretic, coffee does not help with hydration.

    • Well, the abstract doesn't tell us what comparisons they made other than more coffee drunk vs less, but given that it's a Harvard study I'll extend the trust that they had decent control groups and biostatistics (and I'm not saying that just because I'm all doe-eyed about a big name school, I'm saying that because Harvard has probably the best public health program in the world).

      Tea would be a pretty poor control, however; when testing a biochemical cocktail for health effects, when you want a control tha
      • by wren337 (182018)

        I'd assume this was a survey and data mining exercise, that they didn't assign people randomly into groups and tell them to drink specific amounts of coffee. Since the abstract doesn't mention it they may not have asked people if they drink tea or not, so the tea drinkers would be distributed among every group (some drinking coffee in different amounts as well, some drinking no coffee). It would have been interesting to see that information mined separately. I don't see how it would have muddied the wate

  • Well I suppose I should go get some stock in Starbucks.
  • Another study published on Breast Cancer Research [breast-can...search.com] claims it also helps against a form of aggressive breast cancer.
  • Quoting Linus Torvalds:

    "So every time I see some piece of medical research saying that caffeine is good for you, I high-five myself. Because I'm going to live forever."

    http://torvalds-family.blogspot.com/2010/08/13744-supplied.html [blogspot.com]

  • Heard about this on NPR this morning, and the researcher said there was no difference between caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee in the study. Both produced the same effect.

    So if you don't like the stimulant-ness of coffee, drink decaf for the same protective effect.

  • I'm never going to sleep, either.

  • by LS (57954) on Wednesday May 18, 2011 @12:49PM (#36167684) Homepage

    Is it just me or does there seem to be a serious coffee lobby / PR organization at work here? No exaggeration, every three months for the last couple decades I've seen some story about the benefits of coffee on health. It is clearly legal because it is a workers' drug. It keeps people focused during work, while leaving them slightly frazzled afterwards so that they have no energy for anything else.

    Did anyone read the articles on this? The benefit was found for those who drank SIX cups or more a day. Jumping off a tall building also reduces prostate cancer - by 100%.

With all the fancy scientists in the world, why can't they just once build a nuclear balm?

Working...