Leading up to the American Revolution in December 1773, the Boston Tea Party was the historical event that began to transform America into a coffee drinking nation. Today the U.S. is responsible for more than a third of worldwide coffee consumption at 400 million cups every day. Over the years, thousands of studies have been done examining coffeeâ€™s impact on health and, for the most part, their results are as pleasing as the aroma of that freshly brewed cup of java.
â€œOverall, the research shows that coffee is far more healthful than it is harmful,â€ says Dr. Tomas DePaulis, research scientist at Vanderbilt Universityâ€™s Institute for Coffee Studies. â€œFor most people, very little bad comes from drinking it, but a lot of good.â€
Coffee not only perks up energy and helps sharpen the mind, it has been shown to lessen the severity of a heart attack or stroke and protect against certain cancers, type 2 diabetes, liver disease and gallstones. Thereâ€™s also evidence that coffee may help stop a headache, boost mood and even prevent cavities. And a study presented this week at the Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research conference in Houston, Texas shows that men who drink coffee on a regular basis have an added benefitâ€”a significantly decreased risk of developing aggressive prostate cancer.
Details of the Study:
The study, by researchers from the Channing Laboratory at the Harvard Medical School and the Harvard School of Public Health, was based on an analysis of information from the Health Professionalsâ€™ Follow-Up Study, which included data on the coffee-drinking habits of about 50,000 men from 1986 to 2006. During that time frame, 4,975 of the men developed prostate cancer, 846 cases being life-threatening because they had spread beyond the prostate gland or were growing aggressively. The review showed a clear relationship between the amount of coffee consumed and prostate cancer risk. The men who drank the most coffee (six or more cups per day) were nearly 60 percent less likely to develop advanced prostate cancer and 19 percent less likely to develop any form of prostate cancer than men who drank no coffee.
Some of coffeeâ€™s reported benefits are a direct result of its high caffeine content. An eight ounce cup of drip-brewed coffee contains about 85 mg, which is about three and a half times more than the same serving of tea or cola or one ounce of chocolate. But the researchers say the fact that the same risk reduction was seen regardless of whether the man drank regular or decaffeinated coffee suggests it isnâ€™t the caffeine but rather coffeeâ€™s influence on insulin and hormone levels that caused the positive effect on prostate cancer risk. â€œCoffee has effects on insulin and glucose metabolism, as well as sex hormone levels, all of which play a role in prostate cancer,â€ said lead author Dr. Kathryn M. Wilson, a research fellow in epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health.
Wilson said though more work is needed before any firm conclusion can be drawn about the relationship between coffee and prostate cancer, the results of this study are encouraging. â€œVery few lifestyle factors have been consistently associated with prostate cancer risk, especially with risk of aggressive disease, so it would be exciting if this association is confirmed in other studies,â€ Wilson said. â€œWhile it is too early to recommend increasing coffee intake based on this study alone, our results do suggest there is no reason to stop drinking coffee out of any concern about prostate cancer.â€