Italian Coffee

Coffee / Joanna Malinowska

A research on 7,000 Italian men, combined with laboratory studies, confirms that drinking more than three Italian-style coffee cups a day reduces prostate cancer risk by more than 50%.

The role of coffee, specifically caffeine in relation to prostate cancer is something that has been, and still is being hotly debated. A protective effect of the popular drink has already been suggested by previous studies, but this study, published in the International Journal of Cancer, shows that three cups or more actually can lower the risk of prostate cancer, an anti tumor action confirmed also by laboratory experiments.

“In recent years we have seen a number of international studies on this issue, but scientific evidence has been considered insufficient to draw conclusions. Moreover, in some cases results were contradictory. Our goal, therefore, was to increase knowledge in this field and to provide a clearer view”, explains George Pounis, Greek researcher at Neuromed and first author of the paper.

About seven thousand men were observed for four years on average.  “By analyzing their coffee consumption habits and comparing them with prostate cancer cases occurred over time, we saw a net reduction of risk, 53%, in those who drank more than three cups a day”, Pounis continues.

Then researchers sought confirmation by testing the action of coffee extracts on prostate cancer cells in laboratory studies. They tested decaffeinated extracts along with those containing caffeine and found that the extracts containing caffeine significantly reduced cancer cells proliferation, as well as their ability to metastasize.

“The observations on cancer cells allow us to say that the beneficial effect observed among the seven thousand participants is most likely due to caffeine, rather than to the many other substances contained in coffee”, says Maria Benedetta Donati, Head of Laboratory of Translational Medicine.

“We should keep in mind – says Licia Iacoviello, Head of the Molecular and Nutritional Epidemiology Laboratory – that the study is conducted on a central Italy population. They prepare coffee rigorously Italian way: high pressure, very high water temperature and with no filters. This method, different from those followed in other areas of the world, could lead to a higher concentration of bioactive substances. It will be very interesting, now, to explore this aspect. Coffee is an integral part of Italian lifestyle, which, we must remember, is not made just by individual foods, but also by the specific way they are prepared”.