Prostate cancer patients who drank four or more cups of coffee a day had a 59 percent lower risk of recurrence or progression of the disease than study participants who drank one cup or less per week, according to research just published in Cancer Causes & Control.
The final analysis looked at 630 of the original 1,001 prostate cancer patients in King County, Washington, aged 35 to 74 at diagnosis, who fit the criteria and answered questions regarding coffee intake. The study followed patients for about 6.5 years.
Of the 630 patients, there were 141 events of prostate cancer recurrence/progression. These “events” were instances of death caused by prostate cancer, metastases, secondary treatment or rising levels of PSA (prostate-specific antigen). Even after excluding patients who had an increased PSA level, viewing PSA level as a poor predictor of survival, the association between coffee consumption and a reduced risk of prostate cancer recurrence/progression was still statistically significant.
As the researchers noted, the limitation to this study is its small scale: The scientists were only able to analyze a limited amount of people from a very specific area. It would be great to see this study replicated on a much larger scale, encompassing men from all over the country, from differing racial and socioeconomic backgrounds and different age groups–and then see if coffee consumption is still significant in reducing prostate cancer recurrence and progression.
While this is great news for coffee lovers, we don’t want to tell men to go out and drink 10 cups of coffee a day to save their prostate. Although this study and many others seem to commend coffee and its benefits (which may come from the drink’s phytochemicals), more studies need to be done to prove those benefits, what dosage is best and exactly what’s in coffee that fights cancer. Moderation is usually the best policy–three or four cups a day–since caffeine in coffee can also have negative effects on our brains and bodies at high doses.