APR 28, 2017 3:21 PM PDT

Italian-Style Coffee Could Slash Prostate Cancer Risks

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham

Men who enjoy daily coffee may want to switch to the Italian-style of consuming the caffeine if they want to lower their risks of prostate cancer, suggest a new study.

Image credit: pixabay.com

Coffee is one of the world’s most popular drinks. Its popularity has made it a target for many health investigations, some claiming the caffeine in the beverage can increase cancer, while other studies claim health benefits. But recently, in a large review of all nearly 1000 studies, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which is convened by the World Health Organization, concluded that there is no strong evidence that coffee increases cancer risks.

If coffee is unlikely to up your cancer risks, can it do the opposite and reduce your cancer risks? There’s no better place to seek the answer to this question than in Italy, where the coffee culture is so pervasive.

Italians love their coffee. Most drink it with every meal - a cappuccino at breakfast, a cafe macchiato at lunch, and an espresso to round off dinner. While Italy isn’t the number one coffee-consuming country (that would be Finland), Italians aren’t the least shy with coffee, with the average person consuming around 600 cups of coffee per year.

Researchers at the Molecular and Nutritional Epidemiology Laboratory at I.R.C.C.S. Neuromed in Italy decided to investigate the association between Italian-style coffee and prostate cancer incidence in Italian men. The study included data from nearly 7,000 men who were at least 50 years old. The men recorded their daily coffee intake, and were followed for an average of 4 years.

The team found that men who drank at least three cups of Italian-style coffee daily had a 53 percent decrease in prostate cancer risks, versus men who drank less coffee. The team also showed that extracts of caffeinated Italian-style coffee had anticancer effects on cancer cells in the lab. Specifically, they observed a reduction in the proliferation and metastasis of the cancer cells with exposure to caffeinated extracts versus decaffeinated extracts.

"The observations on cancer cells allow us to say that the beneficial effect observed among the 7,000 participants is most likely due to caffeine, rather than to the many other substances contained in coffee," notes study co-author Maria Benedetta Donati, also of the Department of Epidemiology and Prevention.

But is it the amount of caffeine that produced the anticancer effects, or the Italian-style of coffee preparation? The authors don’t fully address this, but they note that Italian-style coffee is markedly different in the way that it’s made. "They prepare coffee [the] rigorously Italian way: high pressure, very high water temperature, and with no filters," said Licia Iacoviello, the study’s co-author. "This method, different from those followed in other areas of the world, could lead to a higher concentration of bioactive substances.It will be very interesting, now, to explore this aspect. Coffee is an integral part of Italian lifestyle, which, we must remember, is not made just by individual foods, but also by the specific way they are prepared."

Taken at face value, the results of this study seem to give men ample permission to indulge in another cup of coffee. Just make sure it’s Italian-style, and that it’s not piping hot!

Additional source: MNT

About the Author
  • I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
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