Coffee Consumption and Risk of Prostate Cancer
Reviewed by: Dr. Thomas Hunter – Radiation Oncology specialist
Prostate cancer occurs in the prostate gland, which is a walnut-sized structure in men that sits below the bladder. The condition is rare in younger men but the risk increases rapidly after age 50, making it the most common cancer in U.S. men other than skin cancers. Most cases are diagnosed in men 65 and older.
Studies suggest that drinking coffee can lower the risk of developing prostate cancer.
Link Between Drinking Coffee and Lowering the Risk of Prostate Cancer
Research on black coffee and prostate cancer has shown that men who consumed six or more cups of coffee per day had a nearly 20% lower risk of developing prostate cancer. The protective benefit is even higher for more aggressive forms of prostate cancer, with a 60% lower risk. Even in men who drank less coffee — one to three cups per day — there was a 30% decrease in the risk of developing aggressive prostate cancer.
It should be noted that there does not to be a correlation between caffeine and prostate cancer. Men who drank decaffeinated coffee lowered their risk of developing prostate cancer by the same amount.
Active Components in Coffee
Researchers aren’t sure how coffee reduces cancer risk. It’s a complex substance that contains hundreds of active ingredients, many of which may be beneficial. This includes antioxidants such as flavonoids and polyphenols.
While it isn’t accurate to say that coffee kills cancer, it appears that its ingredients prevent cell damage and reduce inflammation. Two substances that researchers think may play a key role in lowering prostate cancer risk are kahweol acetate and cafestol – found in both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee. Kahweol acetate and cafestol have been shown to slow the growth of prostate cancer cells.
Caffeine Side Effects and Warnings
Although the latest news about coffee and prostate cancer is encouraging, there can be side effects from consuming too much caffeine. For example, consuming more than four cups of coffee a day can cause or worsen insomnia. It may also cause headaches, irritability, and irregular heartbeats. In addition, coffee is a diuretic, which means it causes your body to eliminate more water. Consequently, it can increase the risk of dehydration if you don’t compensate by drinking plenty of water.
So, while it’s likely that coffee reduces cancer risk — specifically prostate cancer — you should be cautious about increasing your coffee intake and consider switching to decaf when drinking more than a couple of cups. Keep in mind that a cup of coffee is considered eight ounces, and the large mugs at your favorite coffee shop or that you have at home can be much more than that.
Learn About Cancer Care Services at Baptist Health
Prostate cancer is a serious condition that can also spread to other parts of the body. Fortunately, it can be detected (including through a blood test to measure your prostate-specific antigen or PSA level) and treatment can stop or slow its development.
Learn more about our cancer care services.