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December 11, 2009
Less advanced and lethal prostate cancers in male coffee drinkers
The American Association for Cancer Research Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research Conference held December 6-9, 2009 in Houston was the site of a presentation of the finding that men with a high daily intake of coffee have a significantly lower risk of advanced and lethal prostate cancer. The beverage contains antioxidants and minerals as well as caffeine, all of which could impact cancer risk.
Postdoctoral fellow Kathryn M. Wilson, PhD of Harvard School of Public Health and her colleagues at Harvard Medical School's Channing Laboratory and McGill University in Montreal evaluated data from nearly 50,000 participants in the Health Professionals’ Follow-Up Study. Regular and decaffeinated coffee intake was assessed for 1986 and every four years thereafter until 2006. During this time period, 4,975 men developed prostate cancer.
While coffee drinking appeared to have a small protective effect on the overall risk of prostate cancer, with those who consumed 6 or more cups per day having a 19 percent lower risk compared with those who did not drink coffee, when advanced and fatal cancers were separately analyzed, the risk of each was 59 percent lower in men who consumed the most coffee, and among men who had never smoked, the risk was 89 percent lower. Similar results were observed for both regular and decaffeinated coffee. "Few studies have looked prospectively at this association, and none have looked at coffee and specific prostate cancer outcomes," noted Dr Wilson. "We specifically looked at different types of prostate cancer, such as advanced versus localized cancers or high-grade versus low-grade cancers."
"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," she remarked.
In an analysis involving a subset of the current study's subjects for whom blood samples were collected between 1993 and 1995, greater coffee intake was found to be associated with higher levels of testosterone and serum hormone binding globulin and with lower plasma levels of C-peptide.
"The strong inverse association between coffee consumption and risk of lethal and advanced prostate cancers is potentially important and should be confirmed in other populations," the authors conclude. "The association appears to be related to non-caffeine components of coffee and may be mediated through effects on insulin metabolism and/or sex hormone levels."
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Malignant tumors develop multiple genetic abnormalities that accumulate progressively in individual cells during the course of tumor evolution. For example, abnormalities involving p53 generally occur early in the development of invasive breast cancers. What biological situation(s) or conditions allow p53 or other DNA repair proteins, the guardians at the gate, to become mutated enough to allow such expressions? If we know what steps are involved in this process(es), we can avoid or reduce them and prevent initiation or promotional events.
The conditions favoring the above appear to include inflammatory situations that are associated with metabolic products that favor the development of dysplasia and neoplasia. These biologically inflamed situations are characterized by the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) that damage cell membranes, that is, free radicals. For example, we know that ROS, or free radicals, cause oxidative damage to LDL cholesterol to eventuate in atheromatous plaques that are major factors in coronary artery disease. ROS damage the lipid membranes of the cell by means of an oxidative reaction called lipid peroxidation. The cell membrane is critical to the cell's integrity; it is involved in the selective entry and exit of substances (ligands) that interact at the membrane border by means of a chemical reaction with docking sites called receptors.
Damage to structures like the cell membrane allows the tumor cell access to vital cell functions. Tumor cells, or what causes them, along with viruses, inactivate other parts of the surveillance mechanisms of the healthy organism. The interferon-signaling pathway (ISP) is often knocked out by tumor cells because interferons are molecules that actively patrol against viruses and cancer cells. In situations where cancer has developed, the ISP is often damaged or inactivated. Therefore, tumor-promoting situations are ones in which there is vulnerability of the organism due to inflammatory conditions incited by events that lead to damage of the surveillance mechanisms and result in access to vital cell functions.
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Polyphenols are powerful natural nutrients that act as antioxidants, protecting against the attacks of free radicals in the body. The presence of an excess of these free radicals, which are highly unstable molecules which can cause widespread damage throughout the body, is triggered by stress, pollution, direct exposure to sunlight, an unbalanced diet, smoking, and other factors.
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