Do you drink coffee first thing in the morning? Later in the day? At dinner perhaps? Good for you, especially if you are male. Recently, a huge medical study conducted by Harvard researchers found that decaf and regular coffee drinkers have much lower occurrences of cancer than those who do not drink coffee. These findings applied mostly to the risk of prostate cancer, but other types were affected as well. Liver cancer was just one of the others listed by the study. So, it looks like those who use coffee makers and partake in that traditional morning beverage are not wasting their time.
Numerically, the data is impressive. Twelve years and 1.2 billion cups of coffee later, the 48,000 men in the study, each of whom drank about six cups per day, provided a wealth of information. Prostate cancer rates decreased so much that researchers think this could be a breakthrough in prostate health science. Prostate cancer is the leading cancer in U.S. males, and one of the leading causes of cancer-related death as well. The study lasted for 12 years and looked at decaf drinkers and those who drank regular coffee. Coffee makers were not provided to study participants.
Researchers are not exactly certain what mechanisms are at play here, but were able to pin down a few facts. First, coffee seems to adjust the human body’s production of anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. Coffee in fact contains these two chemicals. Next, the anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory substances alter the body’s insulin and sex hormone levels in special ways. For many years now, medical science has known about insulin’s role as a cancer causing agent. But the new twist is how coffee drinking can negate insulin’s role in the process. As for the sex hormones, researchers say their role is less understood, but that coffee in any case lessens the cancer-related mechanisms.
Since coffee drinkers can look forward to a prostate cancer risk that is 60% less than the general population, it is no wonder that coffee is being viewed by many laypersons as a sort of wonder drink that aids the body’s fight against harmful, toxic substances. Ancient Sumerians touted coffee as a type of medicine as well as a social drink, thinking that it eliminated toxic spirits from the body. So maybe the Harvard doctors are just reinventing the wheel that was first created by the ancients.
Previous research pinpointed coffee’s role in reducing the rates of gallstones, liver cancer, and even type-2 diabetes among men and women. Maybe coffee will find a place in the annals of medical literature as a type of magical drink that wards off all kinds of physical problems.
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