Can coffee help prevent cancer???

Life begins with coffee. Yes, for sure…..

Coffee is one of the most consumed beverages worldwide with an average consumption of 1.1 kg per capita. Though coffee is being cultivated in many of the tropical countries but Brazil is its largest producer. The powder is extracted from the roasted beans of various coffee plants including Coffea arabica (Arabica coffee) and Coffea canephora (Robusta coffee). Many researchers have identified a strong correlation between the coffee consumption and reduced risk of oral cancer. Let’s learn more about it.

Oral cancer including the cancer of oral cavity, pharynx and larynx is one of the major health issues worldwide mainly because of low mortality rate and poor quality of life. It is recognized as eighth most common cancer among the men and fourteenth most common among the women and so the primary prevention of the cancer is the need of an hour. Tobacco consumption and alcohol intake are established as the major risk factors for oropharyngeal carcinoma and synergistically leads to around 75% of the diagnosed cases in North America and Europe. In India, the average statistics of death because of the oral cancer goes to about 50%. According to a report by National Institute of Cancer Prevention and Research (NICPR), 75% of the men affected with cancer have lowered life expectancy, while the mortality rate of cancer in women is about 60%. The most common cancer among the men is India is the cancer of lip/oral cavity because of the habits they have.


Coffee is among the most served hot beverages and is like by all. The antioxidant and anti-neoplastic properties of the various components of a coffee drink can help in reducing the risk of cancer and exert the beneficial effects on the health. Majorly, coffee composed of caffeine, antioxidants including chlorogenic acids and melonoidins, and diterpenes like cafestol and kahweol. All these compounds contribute not only to the unique flavour and aroma of the coffee but also to the well-researched physiological effects on the human body.

About 60 plant species contains caffeine out of which cocoa beans, kola nuts, tea leaves and coffee beans are some of the most popular. Approximately 75-100mg caffeine is present in a conventional cup of coffee. Caffeine is a pharmacologically active compound besides acting as a mild central nervous system stimulant. Caffeine helps in gaining improved alertness, attentions, and physiological performances. Besides all this, caffeine is also related to the suppression of progress of G0 phase (quiescent cells) into the cell cycle by inhibiting the cell growth signal-induced activation of cyclin-dependent kinase.

Type of coffee Average caffeine content (mg) in a cup
Drip coffee 115-175
Expresso 100
Brewed 80-135
Instant 65-100
Decaffeinated, brewed 3-4
Decaffeinated, instant 2-3

Antioxidants, including chlorogenic acids and melanoidins, are the naturally occurring substances which help in the deactivation of the oxidants. Different antioxidants present in the coffee exert various effects on the body, but further studies are required in order to establish the evidence. The naturally occurring oil in the coffee is diterpene which includes cafestol and kahweol. Many studies have shown to raise the serum levels of total and LDL (Low Density Lipoproteins) cholesterol. As per the researches so far, both cafestol and kahweol inhibits the DNA damage induced by procarcinogens like 7,12-dimethylbenzanthracene and aflatoxin B1. The genotoxicity of some of the carcinogens is reduced and activation of the enzymes like glutathione S-transferase and N-acetyle transferase which helps in cancerogenic detoxification is carried out by diterpenes in the coffee. The concentration of different substances in a cup of coffee and their anticancer properties depends on the type of raw coffee (Arabica or Robusta), roasting and brewing of the coffee.

There has always been an ongoing debate about the association between cancer and consuming a coffee drink since the early 1970s with some studies in favour of the inverse relation between coffee consumption and cancer development while others oppose this fact. Also, a Japanese study showed no significant relation between drinking coffee and cancer development. Some researches have shown a relation between consuming coffee and risk of cancer development at different sites.

Most of the studies published so far reported an inverse relation between coffee consumption and the development of oesophageal cancer. An association of stomach cancer with coffee drinking has not been established till date while most of the studies have proved that the risk of cancer development in the upper digestive tract can be reduced to manifold with the daily consumption of coffee. Coffee consumption has no significant effect of the development of the laryngeal cancer. Coffee helps in slowing down the progression of liver cancer, the fifth most common cancer, is well proved in many of the studies done so far. It has been found that a moderate coffee drinker with consuming about 4 cups a week or even more could reduce about 59% chances of developing liver cancer. This could be related to the coffee lowering down the circulating iron levels and hence the risk of hepatic (liver) carcinogenesis or inhibition of the elevated levels of hepatic transaminases. The chance of developing the pancreatic cancer is very low in the coffee drinkers as compared to the non-drinkers. A study had classified coffee as 2B, i.e., potentially carcinogenic to humans and had suggested that coffee drinking can increase the risk of bladder cancer to about 18% in men and 26% in women. However, this relationship between coffee consumption and risk of bladder cancer is inconclusive. Renal (kidney) cancer is found associated with smoking, diet and overweight. The researchers have found an inverse correlation between the renal cancer development and the coffee consumption but still many stones remain untouched and further studies are required to prove the fact. Some of the recent studies had stated that the men who drink six or more cups of coffee per day have reduced the risk of lethal and advanced prostate cancer to about 60% as compared to the non-drinkers. A 24% lowered, favourable effect of moderate coffee consumption is seen on the development of colorectal cancer. For post menopausal women, a Swedish study had given a proof of low risk of non hormone receptive breast cancer in the heavy coffee drinkers (more than 5 cups per day) as compared to those who drink 1 cup or less coffee per day. Daily consumption of 4-6 cups of coffee helps in reducing 25-70% chances of developing the breast cancer in pre-menopausal ladies. 20% reduction in the risk to develop the endometrial cancer is likely to be observed in the coffee drinkers. Caffeine has been shown to double the mortality of the cells damages by UVB radiation and hence helps decreasing the risk of skin cancer. A low risk of about 34% is seen in men with glioma (brain tumor) who consume more than 100 ml of coffee in a day. Caffeinated coffee has been shown the increase while decaffeinated coffee decreases the risk of the lung cancer progression. A recent study has shown a significant reduction to about 50% in oral cancer deaths if there is a daily intake of at least 4 cups of caffeinated coffee.

Besides cancer, researchers have proved that daily consumption of coffee reduced the risk of some of ailments including Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease, type 2 diabetes, gall stones, asthma attacks, heart rhythm problems, strokes, liver cirrhosis and many more. Caffeine acts as a stimulant and helps to increase the effectiveness of some certain types of painkillers. Also, coffee grounds are good for garden by helping in adding nitrogen to the soil.

Coffee plants are ranked among the most heavily sprayed crops with pesticides. With so many of the beneficial effects, the overconsumption of coffee also might pose harmful effects including changes in sleep pattern, leads to auditory hallucinations, raise the blood pressure, stains teeth, absorption of minerals like magnesium, zinc, iron is hampered, dehydration, loss of vitamin B and C and also calcium, iron and zinc. Caffeine may leads to heartburn by aggravating the acid production. Also, overconsumption of coffee might leads to possible weight gain.

Coffee content Probable weight gain (Cal)
Whipped cream (4 oz.) 77
Mocha, caramel (per pump) 25
Sugar packet 15
Flavoured creamer (1 tbsp.) 15-35
Whole milk (2 tbsp.) 18
Non fat milk (2 tbsp.) 11
Soy milk (2 tbsp.) 17

Coffee is one of the most frequently and most liked hot beverage worldwide. It was only a few decades back when the doctors used to warn the association of caffeine present in coffee with the increased risk of cancer progression. The recent studies had shed a lot of light on the health benefits of coffee and its relationship to cancer. Even though the relationship of coffee consumption with cancer development isn’t definitive with any of the studies so far but it revealed that drinking coffee is more beneficial than harmful as long as the person metabolize caffeine correctly and doesn’t suffer caffeine allergy. It is considered that caffeine in coffee is only recommended for moderate level so intake of less than 400 mg of caffeine a day seems to be a safe level for adults.

Coffee, Tastes Great, Smells Wonderful, And

Can Even Boost The Oral Health!!!


1 comment

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