According to the conclusions of a new study – published in the latest issue of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention – it could be that consuming coffee reduces women's risks of developing endometrial cancer.
The protective effort was only identified in people who consumed coffee for prolonged periods of time, and in medium-to-large amounts. The research was conducted by investigators at the Harvard School of Public Health, led by professor of nutrition and epidemiology Edward Giovannucci, MD, ScD.
The team leader believes that coffee is a protective agent against most cancers that are linked to weight imbalances, or to the body's inability to process chemicals such as estrogen and insulin properly.
Giovannucci conducted the new research with PhD student Youjin Je. The data the team used were collected from the Nurses’ Health Study. This investigation analyzed more than 67,470 women over more than 26 years.
Over the study period, the group identified 672 cases of endometrial cancer. “Coffee has already been shown to be protective against diabetes due to its effect on insulin. So we hypothesized that we’d see a reduction in some cancers as well,” the Harvard expert says.
The team was able to determine that drinking about 4 cups of coffee per day could be linked to a 255 percent decrease in women's chances of developing endometrial cancer. A 7 percent decrease in risk was also observed for women who drank between 2 and 3 cups of coffee daily.
What was interesting to investigators was that a similar protective effect was discovered for decaffeinated coffee as well. This finding would seem to indicate that the active compound coffee relies on for its kick – caffeine – is not the chemical responsible for the effect.
It was found that women who drank more than 2 cups of decaffeinated coffee daily displayed a 22 percent decrease in their chances of developing endometrial cancer. This disease affects the lining of the womb.
“Coffee has long been linked with smoking, and if you drink coffee and smoke, the positive effects of coffee are going to be more than outweighed by the negative effects of smoking. However, laboratory testing has found that coffee has much more antioxidants than most vegetables and fruits,” Giovannucci explains.