Coffee and Cancer

Last month in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, an editorial entitled “Coffee consumption and risk of chronic diseases: changing our views” reviewed the growing evidence that for most people, the benefits of drinking coffee likely outweigh the risks. For example, a recent analysis of the best studies published to date suggests coffee consumption may lead to a modest reduction in overall cancer incidence, as detailed in my 1-min. video Coffee and Cancer. Each daily cup o’ joe was associated with about a 3% reduced risk of cancers, especially bladder, breast, mouth, colorectal, endometrial, esophageal, liver, leukemic, pancreatic, and prostate cancers.

What about the caffeine though? Find out in today’s video pick shown above.

There are a few caveats. Some health conditions may be worsened by coffee, such as insomnia, anxiety, gastroesophageal reflux (heartburn), high blood pressure, and certain heartbeat rhythm irregularities. There are also compounds in coffee that increase cholesterol levels, but are effectively removed when filtered through paper, so drip coffee is preferable to boiled, French press and espresso. Pregnant women should restrict caffeine consumption to less than two cups of coffee a day.

Despite the growing evidence of health benefits associated with coffee consumption, I still don’t recommend people drink it—not because it’s not healthy, but because there are even healthier choices. In this way, coffee is like a banana, another common convenient plant product. If you have a choice, I’d encourage you to make healthier fruit choices (apples are better, berries are best). Similarly, when it comes to beverages, I’d encourage you to choose an even healthier one, like green tea.

One final note: not all routes of administering coffee are benign. Consider the title of a case reported last month in a medical journal: “Rectal Perforation…Caused by Rectal Burns Associated With Hot Coffee Enemas.”

In health,
Michael Greger, M.D.

Image credit: : Urban Hafner / Flickr

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W. C
W. Cabout a year ago

Thank you.

William C
William Cabout a year ago


Jeanne Rogers
Jeanne R1 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Fi T.
Past Member 2 years ago

Consult the doctor

Duane B.
.4 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Harriet J. B.
Harriet B5 years ago

Coffee makes the world turn. I like mine with just a few drops of low fat milk.

Eternal Gardener
Eternal G5 years ago

Just black.

Shirley Z.
Shirley Z5 years ago

Love coffee! Also green tea. Variety and moderation, dependng on the season. Real home made lemonade in the summer hits the spot.

Lisa Taylor
Lisa Taylor5 years ago

Coffee and cigarettes were a 20-year habit. Went cold turkey for the last time on cigarettes November 2009. As for coffee, I drink a few cups of organic/fair trade/etc. coffee a day, hot and cold (depending on season). I make my own organic green chai tea for evening treat. Studies go back and forth on what's good/bad for you. I gave up a product with no redeeming qualities. Everything else (vegan for me) in moderation :)

Patricia H.
Patricia H.5 years ago

thanks for sharing