Coffee linked to lower risk of prostate cancer, study suggests

Alexandra Thompson
·3-min read
Espresso shot pouring out of a espresso machine.
Coffee has known anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. (Stock, Getty Images)

Several cups of coffee a day could reduce a man’s risk of prostate cancer, research suggests.

The popular pick-me-up has previously been linked to a lower risk of liver, bowel and breast tumours, however, the extent to which it protects against prostate cancer was less clear.

To learn more, scientists from the Shengjing Hospital of China Medical University analysed 16 studies that investigated a link between coffee consumption and the disease.

Results suggest the men who drank the most coffee – two to nine cups a day – were 9% less likely to develop prostate cancer than those who consumed the least amount – none to two cups.

Overall, every additional cup of coffee over a 24-hour period was linked to a 1% reduction in risk.

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Coffee is known to improve the break down of glucose, as well as having anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It also helps regulate sex hormone levels, like testosterone.

All of the above can influence the onset, development and progression of prostate cancer.

Blue ribbon symbolic for prostate cancer awareness campaign and men's health in doctor's hand
Prostate cancer affects one in eight men in the UK at some point in their life. (Stock, Getty Images)

Around one in eight men in the UK will statistically develop prostate cancer at some point in their life.

A generally slow-growing tumour, the disease is not always life-threatening, with 78% of patients surviving 10 or more years post-diagnosis in England and Wales.

Many therefore forgo treatment due to its side effects, like urinary incontinence and erectile dysfunction, outweighing its benefits.

Coffee is one of the most popular drinks in the world, meaning even small health effects may “exert a substantial public health impact”, the scientists wrote in the journal BMJ Open.

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With previous prostate cancer-coffee studies throwing up mixed results, the Shengjing scientists analysed 16 trials – made up of more than 1 million men between them – published up to September 2020.

The studies were carried out in North America, Europe or Japan.

Nearly three quarters of all prostate cancer cases occur in the western world, however, the disease has risen sharply in Asia since the 1970s, noted the scientists.

The highest level of coffee consumption varied from two to nine cups a day, while the lowest intake ranged from none to two cups every 24 hours.

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The results suggest the participants who consumed the most coffee were 9% less likely to develop prostate cancer than those who drank the least.

This rose to 12% to 16% for advanced – when the disease has spread – or fatal prostate cancer.

Read more: Prostate cancer to become most common form of the disease in UK

The highest coffee intake was also linked to a 7% lower risk of localised disease, when the tumour is limited to that organ.

The scientists stressed the measurements of the men’s coffee consumption may have been inaccurate due to them having to recall their intake. Coffee also varies in type and brewing methods.

Nevertheless, the scientists concluded: “This study suggests increased coffee consumption may be associated with a reduced risk of prostate cancer.

“Further research is still warranted to explore the underlying mechanisms and active compounds in coffee.

“If the association is further proved to be a causal effect, men might be encouraged to increase their coffee consumption to potentially decrease the risk of prostate cancer.”

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