November 23, 2011
Can Coffee Consumption Reduce Risk Of Endometrial Cancer?
Knocking back four or more cups of coffee a day for women may reduce the risk of developing cancer in the lining of their uterus, researchers reported Tuesday in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.
The study, involving more than 67,000 nurses, found that women who drank 4 or more cups per day of coffee were one-quarter less likely to develop endometrial cancer than women who averaged less than a cup a day.
The absolute risk that any one woman would develop the cancer was fairly small, coffee drinker or not. Over 26 years, only 672 women, or one percent of the whole study group, were diagnosed with endometrial cancer, reports Amy Norton for Reuters Health.
The caffeine was not seen as the working ingredient surprisingly. There was some indication that decaffeinated coffee might be equally helpful, as drinking two or more cups of decaf daily was linked, although only tentatively, to a 22 percent drop in endometrial cancer risk.
Still, “this study does not prove cause and effect,” cautioned study co-author Dr. Edward Giovannucci, a professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health. “But this observation has been suggested previously, and there´s strong reason now to believe that this association is real.”
When asked for an explanation for these findings, Giovannucci pointed to a number of potential reasons, “One is that women with higher levels of estrogen and insulin are at a higher risk for endometrial cancer, and coffee seems to reduce levels of both,” he said. “Also women with diabetes also face a much higher risk, and coffee has been associated with a lower risk for diabetes. So there are several factors that could be involved,” he tells Alan Mozes from USA Today.
“We also think that any risk reduction is probably related to something other than caffeine,” he added. “Because coffee is a fairly complex beverage with literally thousands of compounds. In fact, coffee has one of the highest concentrations of antioxidants, and any number of those could have a beneficial aspect.”
Director of immunotherapy at St Luke´s Roosevelt Hospital Center and Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City, Dr. Janice Dutcher, suggested the findings should not been interpreted as anything more than an “interesting hypothesis.”
“I´m skeptical,” she told HealthDay. “My skepticism comes from the fact that a variety of things have been associated with cancer at one point, and then not associated with cancer later on. Twenty years ago it was thought coffee was the cause of pancreatic cancer.”
“And to isolate one dietary factor from all the other things that people take in is very complicated. So while I´m sure this is a carefully done study with good methodology, I would be very careful about drawing any conclusions.”
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