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Coffee seems to lower the risk of lethal prostate cancer

May 18, 2011|By Marissa Cevallos, HealthKey / For the Booster Shots blog
  • Drinking coffee might lower a man's risk for developing lethal prostate cancer, according to a new Harvard study.
Drinking coffee might lower a man's risk for developing lethal prostate… (Julius Schorzman / Creative…)

Drinking coffee is a fine way to start the day, many men would agree. For those worried about prostate cancer, it appears to be a great way to start the day.

The latest of many studies on whether a daily cup, or many cups, of java might lower a man’s risk of developing prostate cancer, especially lethal prostate cancer, falls on the side of coffee enthusiasts.

A Harvard School of Public Health study of nearly 48,000 men found that those who drank more than six cups of coffee per day had a 60% reduced risk of developing lethal prostate cancer compared with nondrinkers.

The reduction in lethal prostate cancer risk was similar between decaf and regular coffee drinkers. Thus, the researchers conclude, caffeine isn’t the wonder element -- good news for those who already consume far too much caffeine (you know who you are).

The results were published online Tuesday in the "Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

The researchers write in the discussion of their paper:

“An association between coffee and lower risk of advanced prostate cancer is biologically plausible. Coffee improves glucose metabolism, has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, and affects sex hormone levels, all of which play roles in prostate cancer progression.”

But that’s not to say all men should consume cup after cup. Far from it. For those with benign prostatic hyperplasia, regular coffee can be problematic.

As this WebUrology article notes: “For men who have BPH, drinking coffee can be detrimental because caffeine can stimulate an already overactive bladder, which means it can increase urinary frequency and urgency and may even result in urge incontinence...Caffeine can also irritate the bladder because it is a theoxanthine, which is a family of drugs that includes theobromine (found in chocolate) and theophylline (found in tea).” 

healthkey@tribune.com

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