The Health Benefits Of Coffee For Preventing Cancer

2009-10-22 | |
Last updated: 2013-09-30

Liver Cancer

Another preventative benefit that coffee offers relates to liver cancer, the third leading cause of cancer death worldwide. The evidence from 11 different studies conducted in Europe and Japan determined that coffee drinkers had a 41% lower risk of hepatocellular liver carcinoma (HCC) than those not drinking coffee. The reason for this benefit is unknown, but for those with various forms of Hepatitis who are at risk for liver cancer, the benefits of coffee in the diet are worth investigating.

Stomach Cancer

At the other end of the spectrum, researchers have found significant increases in the risk of stomach cancer for women as a result of drinking coffee. The study run at The National Institute of Environmental Medicine in Sweden found that drinking 2 or more cups of coffee increased the risk of stomach cancer by 49% and drinking 4 or more cups per day increased the risk by 86%. This strongly indicates that coffee drinking is dangerous for the stomach.

Mixed Results For Coffee Preventing Kidney Cancer

However, for the kidneys, cancer research related to coffee has yielded mixed results. Though research lead by Harvard Medical School found that coffee consumption of 3 or more cups of coffee per day reduced kidney cancer by 16% as compared to drinking less than a cup per day, other research has found problems.

In particular, a study led by Maastricht University found that one component of coffee, a chemical called acrylamide, can increase the risk of kidney cancer. Acrylamide appears in many products that are cooked at high temperature so the roasting of the beans is where the problem lies. Specifically, the findings showed that for every cup of coffee consumed each day, the risk of kidney cancer increases by 5%. The net result is that coffee is slightly bad and slightly good for the kidneys at the same time, making it hard to determine the overall risk or benefit.

Lung Cancer Changes Lowered By Drinking Coffee

Moreover, kidneys are not the only organs that have a mixed response to coffee. Research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2005 found that some chemicals in coffee were able to reduce the risk of lung cancer anywhere from 21 to 46% so this would appear to make coffee very good for reducing this risk.

However, another study conducted at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute found that for smokers and former smokers, the risk of lung cancer increased by 34% for drinking 2 to 3 cups of coffee daily and by 51% for those who drank 4 or more cups. The only positive from this study was that those who drank at least 1 cup of decaffeinated coffee per day were able to reduce their risk by 33%. Though coffee obviously has some good, the caffeine that many of us rely on daily is not.

Drinking Coffee Reduce Throat Cancer Risk

Now, for throat cancers, research has also had mixed results, but the situation is more under our control and much less about coffee itself. Research conducted at Tohoku University School of Medicine found that the risk of throat cancer was reduced by 49% in those that drank 1 or more cups of coffee daily. Obviously, this number is significantly in favor of coffee consumption.

The only downside was the result of research conducted at Queensland Institute of Medical Research where the risks of throat cancer were found to increase with the temperature of the liquid being consumed. The researchers found that drinking hot fluids (65-69 °C/149-156 °F) doubled the risk of throat cancer and drinking very hot fluids (70 °C/158 °F) increased the risk of cancer by 8 times. However, this is under our control because simply by waiting 4 minutes before drinking, the risk can be eliminated.


So hopefully, that summary clears things up… Yeah, sure you say. If anyone ever asks why we can be so confused with all the study results telling us how good or bad things are for us, they would have to look no further than research into the health effects of coffee.

Suffice it to say that, as is often the case, moderation is key and there can be too much of a good thing. A cup of coffee daily seems more good than bad, but when you are finding yourself inhaling that 6th cup, you may have gone a tad overboard unless that cup was your doctor’s prescription because of some genetic mutation.

This is not the whole story for the effects of coffee on our bodies by a long shot, but only a view with respect to cancer. A future article will look at the other effects that coffee has on our systems. To discuss, this or any other blog entry, please provide your comments in the the forums.

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Category: Disease Prevention, General Health, Medical Research

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