Can an espresso habit ward off prostate cancer?

Three shots of espresso a day could lower your risk of prostate cancer by 53 per cent, according to a study published in the International Journal of Cancer.

Researchers from the Istituto Neurologico Mediterraneo Neuromed in Italy analysed the coffee consumption of about 7,000 men living in the central region of Molise over four years.

They then compared this data with instances of cancer in the group and found a correlation between coffee consumption and a reduced risk of prostate cancer. Those who drank three or more cups a day were found to be 53 per cent less likely to develop the condition compared to those drinking two cups or fewer a day.

In laboratory conditions the researchers examined the interaction between coffee extracts and prostate cancer cells. Caffeinated extracts ‘significantly’ reduced cancer cell metastasis, wheres decaffeinated coffee did not.

Licia Iacoviello, head of the Molecular and Nutritional Epidemiology Laboratory, said the region of Italy where the study took place may have affected the outcome.

‘We should keep in mind that the study is conducted on a central Italy population,’ she said.

‘They prepare coffee in a rigorously Italian way: high pressure, very high water temperature and with no filters.

‘This method, different from those followed in other areas of the world, could lead to a higher concentration of bioactive substances. It will be very interesting, now, to explore this aspect.’

Instant analysis
While I am willing to get behind any data that allows me to drink more coffee, there are a few important caveats here. Mainly the issue is that this is very preliminary research. The study looks at the incidence of prostate cancer in 6,989 men and compares this against the self-reported amount of Italian-style coffee they consumed. Cell-based experiments were also carried out to see the effect of caffeine on cancer cell lines.

It is certainly reasonable to look at this connection and explore it further with clinical trials, but it is too early to say that drinking coffee actually prevents prostate cancer.
MB
Research score: 3/5