To determine the DNA protective effects of a standard coffee beverage in comparison to water consumption.
The single-blind, randomised controlled study with parallel design included healthy women (n = 50) and men (n = 50) recruited from the general Central European population. The subjects were randomised in a coffee and a control group, with stratification for sex and body mass index. The study comprised two periods of 4 weeks: a preconditioning period, with daily consumption of at least 500 ml water but no coffee, nor tea, nor any other caffeine-containing product. During the subsequent intervention period the coffee group consumed 500 ml of freshly brewed dark roast coffee blend per day, the control group consumed water instead. On the last day of each period, blood was drawn and analysed by comet assay (single-cell gel electrophoresis) to assess the level of DNA damage (strand breakage).
At the end of the intervention period the mean level of DNA strand breaks in the coffee group has decreased in comparison to the control group [difference in means 0.23% TI (tail intensity), p = 0.028]. The mean change from baseline (delta value) was - 23% in the coffeegroup (p = 0.0012). Effects of coffee intake were similar for men and women. During intervention, neither group showed any significant change in body weight or calorie intake.
Our results indicate that regular consumption of a dark roast coffee blend has a beneficial protective effect on human DNA integrity in both, men and women.