Many of us view coffee as a morning necessity. It helps us perk up and get ready for the work day ahead. Several previous studies have shown that drinking coffee may reduce the risk of type-2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.
A new study, just released by the Harvard School of Public Health, has shown some very promising benefits for male coffee drinkers. The study looked at the coffee drinking habits of 47,000 men, comparing the number of cups they had per day with the rate of prostate cancer development among them. Men who drank “a lot” of coffee, defined as six cups or more per day by the study, were 30% less likely to develop any form of the disease than their non-coffee drinking peers. Furthermore, they were 60% less likely to develop an aggressive and life-threatening metastatic prostate cancer.
So is it healthy to be drinking six cups of coffee per day?
Are there benefits to drinking just one cup of coffee?
The answer to the first question is not a simple one. Those who have read my blog know that I advocate healthy dietary choices; I don’t believe in promoting excess, even when it comes to those things that we believe to be beneficial. Moderation is the key to a healthy lifestyle, and drinking a lot of coffee does have some negative side effects to it due to the caffeine. Keep in mind that people also tend to load their coffee with sugars or creamers that are very unhealthy for you.
The answer to the second question posed is that, yes, drinking fewer than six cups does still bring a benefit along with it. Those who drank one to three cups per day still cut their risk of developing an aggressive form of prostate cancer by 30%. The benefit shown in this study doesn’t seem to come from the caffeine, as both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffees were shown to share the same benefits. It’s believed that the benefit comes from the antioxidants found in coffee and its anti-inflammatory properties. These results still held up when the data was adjusted for age, obesity, and lifestyle factors such as smoking and amount of exercise received.
So for now, we’ll keep our eyes open for more studies that confirm these results. Like every other medical discovery, this research has to be replicated and more information needs to be obtained. I’m certainly not going to start advising all my patients to drink six cups of coffee per day. In the big picture, however, this study will add to the ever-growing mosaic of prostate cancer data and research that will one day help us conquer this disease once and for all.