Coffee lovers will enjoy hearing this bit of news. Some recent research has found that the coffee health benefits from drinking 5 cups a day appears to lower your risk of developing oral cancer symptoms.
The intriguing report is the work of a team who analyzed nine earlier case control studies that compared 5,139 subjects with head and neck cancer to 9,028 subjects who were cancer free.
The team was exploring the relationship between the intake of coffee or tea and head and neck cancers.
They were surprised to find that those who drank more than 4 cups of coffee each day had a 39% lower risk of getting mouth cancer. The protection was found for oral and pharyngeal cancer, but not for cancer of the larynx. Experts believe this could be important in terms of explaining why the drink might be helpful.
For those who drank fewer than 5 cups of coffee each day, coffee had a smaller, yet still statistically significant, effect. It worked out to about a 4% lower risk of developing throat or mouth cancer for each cup of coffee you drink.
The protective effect of the coffee wasn’t diminished for those who drank alcohol or smoked cigarettes, two well known (and avoidable) risks for head and neck cancers.
Even more interesting, the protection didn’t get better if the subjects drank 4 or more cups of coffee a day and also ate lots of fruits and veggies which have been found to safeguard the body against head and neck cancers. Drinking caffeinated teas, even massive quantities, also wasn’t found to be protective.
Light to moderate coffee drinking didn’t appear to do anything to the risk of head or neck cancers.
This isn’t the first research to find benefits to drinking coffee. Nor is it the first to find that coffee may have an anti-cancer effect.
Recent studies have linked coffee drinking with smaller brain tumors and less likelihood of developing an aggressive form of prostate cancer. It’s also been tied to improved mental function and reduced stroke risk.
Before you go grab another cup of your favorite brewed beverage, bear in mind that this delicious drink also contains more than a thousand chemicals, so no one can say for sure if the caffeine or another as yet unidentified substance is responsible for the protective effect it seems to have on cancers. There are some coffee chemicals, cafestrol and kahweol for example, that are known to have anti-cancer properties.
Considering how low survival rates are for head and neck cancer, and the already widespread use of coffee as a beverage, this may be a first step toward helping people reduce their risk of these cancers.
While more work is being done, you should do whatever else you can to reduce your risk of head and neck cancers. Continue to eat a diet rich in fruits and veggies, don’t drink excessive volumes of alcohol and if you smoke try to quit.
Everyone wants more research to be done to try and understand the role of coffee health benefits in reducing oral cancer symptoms in head and neck cancers. So stay tuned, and stick with the things you already know will help keep your body cancer free.