Healthy Living Tips  |  Posted 09.29.14

Coffee: A Cancer Fighting Drink

Coffee: A Cancer Fighting Drink

Coffee, alternately touted as medicinal and denounced as health destroying over the centuries, has become one of the most popular drinks in the world today. The Boston Tea Party turned coffee into a patriotic drink in colonial America. In 1952 an ad campaign promoted the idea of a coffee break, and it quickly became a daily ritual in workplaces, homes and churches in the United States. Coffee contains a variety of phytochemicals, many of which have antioxidant properties. Coffee's possible link to cancer is a well studied one, with over 1,000 studies on the topic. Early in the research, some studies hinted that coffee might increase cancer risk. Larger and better designed studies now suggest the opposite: it may be protective for some cancers.

There are several hypotheses on how coffee may possibly decrease cancer risk. Coffee is a major source of antioxidants. Limited small intervention studies suggest that coffee may improve markers of antioxidant status and reduce markers of inflammation in the short-term. Animal studies and human studies both suggest that regular and decaffeinated coffee may decrease insulin resistance, a condition that leads to high insulin levels in the body. Reducing insulin resistance could help reduce risk of cancers whose growth is promoted by excess insulin.

What's In Coffee?

What you get in your cup of coffee varies with how the beans are grown and how you prepare it. Overall, coffee is a good source of the B vitamin riboflavin, and is also a concentrated source of antioxidant phytochemicals.

Coffee contains:

  • Chlorogenic acid, an antioxidant compound that is the major phenol in coffee
  • Quinic acid, a phytochemical that contributes to the acidic taste of coffee
  • Cafestol and kahweol, compounds that are extracted from the beans' oil during brewing. Unfiltered coffee, such as French press or boiled coffee, contains these compounds
  • Caffeine, a naturally occurring stimulant that affects the central nervous system
  • N-methylpyridinium (NMB), created by roasting, may make the antioxidants more potent

There has been enough clear and consistent research that shows that drinking coffee, in moderate amounts, will not increase your cancer risk as previously thought. So, go ahead – enjoy that cup of java OR add coffee into some of your favorite recipes!

*Article from the American Institute for Cancer Research