Prostate health is in the news every time you around lately. There’s a new study with good news for men who love their coffee. Researchers have found that it is very effective in protecting against aggressive prostate cancer – the kind that metastasizes and spreads to other parts of the body and eventually kills you. It seems that almost all of myrecent blogs have been about prostate health – so of course I couldn’t ignore this news. Just recently I posted about the dangers of caffeine and a high fat meal as it can keep blood sugars elevated for hours, but that was due to the intake of caffeine, not the coffee bean on its own.
It doesn’t even matter if you take your coffee decaffeinated or regular – for prostate cancer prevention you will still reap the benefits. If you really love your coffee and drink 6 cups per day then your risk is lowered by 20% for all prostate cancers, but for the aggressive prostate cancer it is lowered by 60% and if you can’t drink 6 cups then anywhere between 1 and 3 cups will lower your risk by 30%. Not bad.
So what is it about coffee? The researchers don’t know yet. The paper also reported that coffee drinkers were also likely to smoke more and exercise less – but even when these factors were taken out of the equation then there was less cancer among the coffee drinkers. Coffee was selected for their study because it has attributes which are beneficial for prostate health. Those attributes are that it is high in antioxidants, it regulates insulin and it reduces inflammation. So I looked around for other studies to support coffees use in prostate health and this is what I found. A meta analysis from 2011 found that coffee has been associated with a reduced risk of cancers occurring in the breast, colon, esophagus, liver, pancreas, prostate, cheek and blood. In 2010 seven case control studies showed a harmful effect of coffee on prostate health, while four cohort studies showed no such effect. The researchers concluded that coffee does not have a harmful effect on prostate health because cohort studies are stronger evidence that case control. There are not an abundance of research articles on coffee and prostate cancer, but I did find a few more.
The one that struck me the most was a study from 2009 that argues that while coffee is considered a safe beverage, green tea has shown evidence in the prevention of prostate cancer. Of course….green tea. How soon we forget when we get swept up with the next new thing that comes along in nutrition. If I were going to choose one beverage over another in respect to cancer prevention it would be green tea. Or white tea – which has even greater antioxidant power than green tea. After all, this is why coffee was chosen for the study – right? Because it has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits, and stabilizes insulin. It isn’t particularly clear if decaffeinated coffee does a better job at stabilizing insulin. There are studies that indicate a lesser risk of diabetes with coffee consumption, but they are not definitive. It is also the case that a high fat meal combined with caffeine can cause an increase in blood sugar for 5 hours – and that can happen from just one strong cup of coffee. But coffee does seem to have a protective effect in protecting against diabetes – just maybe not with caffeine.
So what is the message here? Does coffee prevent prostate cancer – is it the specific antioxidants in coffee that do the trick or will any old antioxidants do? Coffee contains Chlorogenic acids which belongs to the phenol class of antioxidants. Chlorogenic acid is thought to be beneficial in preventing heart disease and tumors of various kinds. It is found in a few foods besides coffee, eggplant, tomatoes, potatoes, sunflower seeds, apples, pears, tea, blueberries and Chinese parsley. But coffee is the main source of Chlorogenic acid is tea. Coffee also contains lignins and magnesium and this is may contribute to its ability stabilize insulin.
If you really want to improve your chances of avoiding prostate cancer or recovering then I don’t think relying on 6 cups of coffee is the best way to go. At least, not if that is all that you are relying on. If you include high antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, and low glycemic foods in your diet for at least 80-90% of the time you will do a whole lot better than 6 cups of coffee. Not to say don’t drink your coffee – just don’t make that your only strategy.
It’s probably not a bad idea to include it for the Chlorogenic acid, but don’t forget about other great foods to add to your diet. Yours truly has not been able to kick the coffee habit and maybe that’s not such a bad thing (as long as I don’t down a high fat meal along side of it). I don’t have to be concerned that I will develop prostate cancer – since I am a woman and all….but I do want to stay cancer free and be healthy. What I have done is to make white tea my other beverage of choice. Every day I fill two containers and take to work with me. It used to be water, but now its white tea with some lemon or spearmint thrown in. It’s not sweetened and I have it over ice. So in addition to my coffee, I do get 4 cups of tea per day. Six was my goal, so I may have to work on a bit. All the reading I have done points to tea being a superior beverage. However, I did come across a new site tonight – Institute for Scientific Information on Coffee (ISIC) and apparently it was just launched today. I’ve listed it below for you. Kind of interesting how it comes about at the same time as the prostate cancer prevention and coffee consumption hits the news. The site is dedicated to all things to do with coffee health and has plenty of research for you if you want to know about the health benefits of coffee. They claim to be unbiased – and perhaps they are, only time will tell with the studies that they provide access to. The institute is formed from seven European coffee companies.
But for your prostate protection don’t forget to eat loads of fruit, vegetables, and pumpkin seeds too.
Coffee consumption and risk of cancers: a meta-analysis of cohort studies.
Yu X, Bao Z, Zou J, Dong J. BMC Cancer. 2011 Mar 15;11:96.
Tea, coffee and prostate cancer. Lee AH, Fraser ML, Binns CW.
Mol Nutr Food Res. 2009 Feb;53(2):256-65.