PHILADELPHIA — Long-term coffee consumption may be associated with a reduced risk for endometrial cancer, according to a recent study in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.
Edward Giovannucci, M.D., Sc.D., professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health, said coffee is emerging as a protective agent in cancers that are linked to obesity, estrogen and insulin.
"Coffee has already been shown to be protective against diabetes due to its effect on insulin," said Giovannucci, a senior researcher on the study. "So we hypothesized that we'd see a reduction in some cancers as well."
Giovannucci, along with Youjin Je, a doctoral candidate in his lab, and colleagues observed cumulative coffee intake in relation to endometrial cancer in 67,470 women who enrolled in the Nurses' Health Study.
During the course of 26 years of follow-up, researchers documented 672 cases of endometrial cancer.
Drinking more than four cups of coffee per day was linked with a 25 percent reduced risk for endometrial cancer. Drinking between two and three cups per day was linked with a 7 percent reduced risk.
A similar link was seen in decaffeinated coffee, where drinking more than two cups per day was linked with a 22 percent reduced risk for endometrial cancer.
Giovannucci said he hopes this study will lead to further inquiries about the effect of coffee on cancer because in this and similar studies, coffee intake is self-selected and not randomized.
"Coffee has long been linked with smoking, and if you drink coffee and smoke, the positive effects of coffee are going to be more than outweighed by the negative effects of smoking," said Giovannucci. "However, laboratory testing has found that coffee has much more antioxidants than most vegetables and fruits."
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The mission of the American Association for Cancer Research is to prevent and cure cancer. Founded in 1907, the AACR is the world's oldest and largest professional organization dedicated to advancing cancer research. The membership includes 33,000 laboratory, translational and clinical researchers; health care professionals; and cancer survivors and advocates in the United States and more than 90 other countries. The AACR marshals the full spectrum of expertise from the cancer community to accelerate progress in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer through high-quality scientific and educational programs. It funds innovative, meritorious research grants, research fellowships and career development awards to young investigators, and it also funds cutting-edge research projects conducted by senior researchers. The AACR has numerous fruitful collaborations with organizations and foundations in the U.S. and abroad, and functions as the Scientific Partner of Stand Up To Cancer, a charitable initiative that supports groundbreaking research aimed at getting new cancer treatments to patients in an accelerated time frame. The AACR Annual Meeting attracts more than 17,000 participants who share the latest discoveries and developments in the field. Special Conferences throughout the year present novel data across a wide variety of topics in cancer research, treatment and patient care, and Educational Workshops are held for the training of young cancer investigators. The AACR publishes seven major peer-reviewed journals: Cancer Discovery; Cancer Research; Clinical Cancer Research; Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention; Molecular Cancer Therapeutics; Molecular Cancer Research; and Cancer Prevention Research. In 2010, AACR journals received 20 percent of the total number of citations given to oncology journals. The AACR also publishes Cancer Today, a magazine for cancer patients, survivors and their caregivers, which provides practical knowledge and new hope for cancer survivors. A major goal of the AACR is to educate the general public and policymakers about the value of cancer research in improving public health, the vital importance of increases in sustained funding for cancer research and biomedical science, and the need for national policies that foster innovation and the acceleration of progress against the 200 diseases we call cancer.