Coffee consumption and cancer – Part one

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Coffee and health includes current scientific information on a wide range of coffee-related topics, including coffee consumption and cancer. The following post provides an overview of this topic – there is such a wealth of information on this topic that we have divided it into two parts.

This focuses on cancer in general, coffee consumption and cancers of the digestive tract and coffee consumption and bladder, kidney and prostate cancers.

Current scientific evidence suggests that moderate coffee drinking is not associated with an increased risk of cancer at the majority of body sites. In fact, research results suggest that coffee consumption may be linked to a reduced risk of developing cancer at a number of body sites, including the oral cavity/pharynx, liver, endometrium, brain, colon and rectum.

A possible association has been shown between coffee consumption and bladder and lung cancer risk. However, in both cases, potential confounding factors such as smoking and alcohol consumption remain, and further studies are needed to confirm the association.

Cancer causes 20% of deaths in Europe each year, with more than 3 million new cases and 1.7 million deaths annually; cancer is the most important cause of death and morbidity in Europe after cardiovascular diseases. Lifestyle factors such as tobacco, harmful alcohol use, poor diet and physical inactivity use are major factors in the development of cancer.

Coffee consumption and cancers of the digestive tract
There is no evidence for an effect of coffee on cancer of the oesophagus or stomach. Moderate coffee consumption has however been linked to a reduced risk of cancers of the mouth and throat as well as moderate coffee consumption being linked to a reduced risk of liver cancer.

Moderate coffee consumption has not been found to link to a higher risk of pancreatic cancer. This has been supported by a number of studies, of which some of the more recent studies have suggested that regular coffee drinking is linked to a lower risk of developing pancreatic cancer

In addition to this moderate coffee consumption has been linked to a reduced risk of colorectal cancer, with regular coffee drinkers appearing to be up to 30% less likely to develop the disease than non-coffee drinkers, however, further research is needed to confirm this link.

Coffee consumption and bladder, kidney and prostate cancers
Although tobacco use and exposure to aromatic amines are the two main risk factors for bladder cancer, other lifestyle factors are also involved.

The evidence of a link between coffee and bladder cancer to date is inconclusive. A number of studies have reported a moderate increase in the risk of bladder cancer with coffee consumption; however, the risk has not been associated with how much coffee has been consumed or for how long. Recent evidence also contradicts this, with those who drink coffee being 18% less likely to develop bladder cancer than those who do not.

There is also no association between coffee and kidney cancer or prostate cancer, with two large studies suggesting that coffee drinkers are at lower risk of developing prostate cancer than non-coffee drinkers.

Look out for our next post for further information on coffee and cancer and to read more information on coffee and cancer now, and to view information sources, click here.

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