Higher coffee consumption is significantly associated with a reduced risk of prostate cancer, researchers have found.


New results published in BMJ Open, saw researchers examine data from 16 different studies from 1989 to 2019. They pooled the information together to assess the overall reduction of risk from coffee consumption.

The team from the Shengjing Hospital of China Medical University found that men who drink several cups of coffee a day had a lower risk of developing prostate cancer compared to those with the “lowest” consumption levels. Each additional daily cup was associated with a reduction in risk of 1 per cent, the findings indicate.

Each study categorised 'highest' and 'lowest' consumption levels differently.

The studies included in the researcher’s analysis looked at data from more than a million men across North America, Europe and Japan. The data included information on almost 58,000 men who had prostate cancer.

Compared with the lowest category of coffee consumption, those deemed to have the highest consumption appeared to have a reduction in prostate cancer risk of 9 per cent. Further analysis found that the highest intake was associated with a 7 per cent lower risk of localised prostate cancer than the lowest intake of coffee.

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Researchers found a 12 per cent lower risk of advanced prostate cancer and a 16 per cent lower risk of death from prostate cancer among those who drank the most coffee. However, they warn that there are limitations to these findings, such as the reliance on participant’s recall of coffee consumption in most of the studies assessed.

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The authors point out that coffee improves glucose metabolism, has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, and affects sex hormone levels, all of which may influence the initiation, development and progression of prostate cancer.

The studies assessed adjusted for other influences on prostate cancer risk related to coffee consumption, such as physical activity or healthy diet. However, the authors state that their findings should be interpreted with caution as due the varying methods used across the 16 studies.

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Still, they conclude: “This study suggests that increased coffee consumption may be associated with a reduced risk of prostate cancer. Further research is still warranted to explore the underlying mechanisms and active compounds in coffee.

"If the association is further proved to be a causal effect, men might be encouraged to increase their coffee consumption to potentially decrease the risk of prostate cancer.”

As prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed across the UK, it is essential that we understand the potential risks and treatments. While future work may help reduce the risk, Australian researchers recently improved our understanding of how prostate cancer develops resistance. This work will help develop targeted treatment to overcome therapy resistance.


Future research in prevention and treatment could significantly lower the deaths associated with prostate cancer.

Reader Q&A: Do tea & coffee dehydrate you?

Asked by: Lizzie Wray, Bournmouth

Health experts often warn of the need to keep hydrated, but some insist tea and coffee don’t increase hydration levels. That’s supposedly because they contain caffeine, which makes us urinate more. But while caffeine can have a diuretic effect, a 2016 study by a team from various UK universities showed the amounts in tea and coffee had negligible impact.

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Frankie MacphersonIntern Journalist, BBC Science Focus