Men who drink at least six or more cups of coffee a day may be cutting their risk for advanced prostate cancer by 60 percent, new research suggests. This is the first large study looking specifically at the relationship between coffee and metastatic prostate cancer, lead researcher Kathryn Wilson said. "This is an exciting finding, because there aren't many modifiable risk factors for prostate cancer." A definite cause-and-effect link is still far from proven, experts say, and just how coffee might help thwart prostate malignancy isn't clear.
"There are a lot of compounds in coffee that have various biological effects. It's a major source of antioxidants and that might have anti-cancer effects," said Wilson, a research fellow in epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health, Boston. "Also, coffee seems to have effects on insulin and has been associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes. In addition, insulin is thought to play a role in many cancers, including prostate cancer." Compounds in coffee also have an impact on sex hormone levels, according to the study.
But right now, the findings point only to an association between a love of "java" and a healthier prostate. More study will be needed to confirm the findings and to see if a biological explanation for the phenomenon exists, Wilson said. The bottom line, she said: "It's probably too early to tell someone that should go out and start drinking coffee just because of this study." The report was published in the May 17 online edition of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Prostate cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed and the second leading cause of cancer death in men in the United States. In the U.S. it affects one in six men during their lifetime. More than 2 million Americans and 16 million men around the world are prostate cancer survivors, the researchers say.