New research suggests that drinking more than three cups a day of Italian-style coffee may reduce the risk of prostate cancer.
The study, “Reduction by Coffee Consumption of Prostate Cancer Risk: Evidence From the Moli-Sani Cohort and Cellular Models,” was published in the International Journal of Cancer.
The role of caffeine in preventing prostate cancer has been a controversial topic among scientists. Some recent studies have suggested that caffeine may have a protective effect on the prostate. Other research, however, has been insufficient to draw conclusions or altogether contradictory.
To further define the protective benefits of coffee in preventing prostate cancer, Italian researchers conducted a 4.2-year epidemiological study of about 7,000 men living in the Molise region of Italy.
Selected participants already were enrolled in the Moli-Sani Project, a large study involving more than 25,000 Italian men designed to provide data on the genetic factors underlying cardiovascular disease, cancer and degenerative pathology.
Researchers analyzed the coffee consumption of the enrolled participants and compared the results against the number of cases of prostate cancer in the group. Interestingly, researchers found that those who drank more than three cups a day of caffeinated coffee had a 53% reduction in prostate cancer compared to non-coffee drinkers.
“We should keep in mid that the study is conducted on a central Italy population. 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,” said Licia Iacoviello, head of the Molecular and Nutritional Epidemiology Laboratory, in a press release.
Researchers performed confirmatory lab testing on prostate cancer cells and found that only coffee extracts containing caffeine were effective in reducing cancer cell proliferation and inhibiting their ability to metastasize. This effect was not observed with decaffeinated coffee.
“The observations on cancer cells allow us to say that the beneficial effect observed among the seven thousand participants is most likely due to caffeine, rather than to the many other substances contained in coffee,” said Maria Benedetta Donati, head of Laboratory of Translational Medicine.