Coffee and Prostate Cancer Risk: It’s Complicated

Coffee is one of the most consumed beverages in the world, and it is also one of the most scrutinized regarding its possible health benefits and risks, which are conflicting. Now a new study from the United Kingdom adds to the controversy regarding coffee and prostate cancer risk, and it appears the relationship is still complicated.

A quick look at the results of previous studies of the association between coffee consumption and prostate cancer risk reveals the conflict. One meta-analysis of 12 studies could not come to any conclusions about the relationship because while it found significant harm between higher coffee consumption and risk of prostate cancer in case control studies, there was no significant findings in cohort studies. Another meta-analysis of five cohort studies indicated a reduced risk of prostate cancer among men who drank coffee compared with those who did not.

Questions about whether coffee is good for men’s health or the prostate in particular still rage.

The new prospective study involved 6,017 men who were enrolled in the Collaborative cohort study between 1970 and 1973 and who were followed until the end of 2007. Reviewers evaluated coffee consumption, Gleason grade, and incidence of prostate cancer.  Median age at the time of prostate cancer screening was 48 years, and 318 men were diagnosed with prostate cancer during the study period.

Men who drank 3 or more cups of coffee had a 55 percent lower risk of developing aggressive prostate cancer (Gleason greater than 7) than men who did not drink coffee at all. However, the reviewers did not see any significant relationship between drinking coffee and developing prostate cancer overall.

It appears the results of this study showing a reduced risk of aggressive prostate cancer but no impact on overall risk of prostate cancer associated with coffee consumption adds to the confusion surrounding the relationship between these two factors. Since studies show the benefits of green tea for prostate cancer, a wise decision may be to switch from coffee to green tea for prostate health.

Read more in our Prostate Cancer Health Center.