The study, presented this week at a conference of the American Association for Cancer Research in Houston, shows men who drank the most coffee were nearly 60% less likely to develop advanced prostate cancer than non-coffee drinkers.
Researchers say it's too early to start recommending that men start drinking coffee to help prevent prostate cancer, but the results are encouraging.
"Very few lifestyle factors have been consistently associated with prostate cancer risk, especially with risk of aggressive disease, so it would be very exciting if this association is confirmed in other studies," says researcher Kathryn M. Wilson, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow at the Channing Laboratory, Harvard Medical School and the Harvard School of Public Health, in a news release. "Our results do suggest there is no reason to stop drinking coffee out of any concern about prostate cancer."
Researchers say it's the first study of its kind to look prospectively at both the overall risk of prostate cancer and the risk of localized vs. advanced prostate cancer that has spread beyond the prostate.
In the study, researchers analyzed information from the Health Professionals' Follow-Up Study, which included data on the coffee-drinking habits of nearly 50,000 men from 1986 to 2006. During that time period, 4,975 of the men developed prostate cancer.
The results showed men who drank the most coffee (six or more cups per day) had a 59% lower risk of aggressive prostate cancer (fatal or advanced disease) compared to non-coffee drinkers.
But researchers say it's not just the caffeine that's responsible for the prostate cancer prevention benefits. The study showed men who drank decaffeinated coffee also had a similar reduction in aggressive prostate cancer risk.
Researchers say coffee also contains many other potentially beneficial compounds such as antioxidants and minerals that may play a role in preventing prostate cancer and more research is needed to confirm these results.
"Coffee has effects on insulin and glucose metabolism as well as sex hormone levels, all of which play a role in prostate cancer," says Wilson.
The combination of alcohol and caffeine produces a potentially lethal mix that just makes it harder to realise you are actually drunk in the first place.
And the study published in Behavioural Neuroscience suggests popular caffeinated energy drinks could also raise risks from intoxication rather than lessen them.