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Coffee and the Reduction of Cancer Risks

August/September 2018, Townsend Letter
By Dr. Steven M. Helschien

Introduction
Daily intake of coffee may boost your health in a myriad of ways, including by reducing your risk of several types of cancer, heart disease and even early death, according to several studies by the American Institute for Cancer Research, National Institutes of Health, and other major medical institutions.

Research has shown that coffee has the richest source of antioxidants of any other food. This is important since antioxidants fight free radicals, which cause cancer. Antioxidants can block carcinogens, reduce cancer cell growth, and promote cancer cell death. Organic coffee that is a premium grade, free of pesticides and chemicals, and that has high standards for roasting are found to be best because they are the richest in antioxidants.

Free Radicals and Cancer Development
Free radicals are highly reactive chemicals in the body that have the potential to harm cells because of their voracious appetite for electrons. They are formed naturally in the body and play an important role in many normal processes. But, at high concentrations, free radicals can be hazardous and damage major components of cells, including DNA, proteins, and cell membranes. According to the National Cancer Institute, the damage to cells, especially the damage to DNA, caused by free radicals, is thought to play a major role in the development of cancer and a host of other chronic conditions.

Antioxidants
Antioxidants, known as “free radical scavengers,” are compounds that interact with free radicals and neutralize them, preventing them from causing damage to cells. The body makes some antioxidants, called endogenous antioxidants, that it uses to neutralize free radicals. However, the body relies on external or exogenous antioxidants, obtained primarily through diet, to obtain the rest of the antioxidants it needs. Numerous studies have shown that increased levels of exogenous antioxidants prevent the types of free radical damage that have been associated with cancer development.

An Antioxidant Superfood
Coffee has more antioxidants than blueberries, cranberries, and dark chocolate. These super antioxidants can reduce inflammation by neutralizing harmful free radicals, as well as reduce the risk of disease related to inflammation, such as cancer and cardiovascular disease. Some of the main antioxidants in coffee that fight cancer include the following:

  • Chlorogenic Acid: A compound that plays an integral role in antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-bacterial activities in the body.
  • Quinine: An antioxidant known for its protective properties.
  • Plant Phenols: Responsible for protecting the body from cellular damage and certain types of cancer.
  • Cafestol: An anti-inflammatory substance in the brain, and also a modulator for bile acid in the intestines.
  • Melanoidins: Compounds that have anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Trigonelline: A compound with anti-bacterial properties.

Coffee Reduces Risk of Several Cancers
According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, the antioxidants, phytochemicals, phenols, and nutrients found in coffee all play an important role in helping reduce the risks of many cancers, including the following:

Breast cancer: Following numerous studies that showed the role of coffee in reducing the risk of breast cancer, researchers at the University of Lund and the Skane University Hospital in Barngaten, Sweden, investigated the effects of coffee in women already diagnosed with the condition.[1] They found, depending on the type of gene a woman has, drinking at least two to three cups of coffee daily can reduce risks for developing breast cancer or possibly delay its onset.

Oral cancer: “Coffee is one of the most widely consumed beverages in the world, and contains a variety of antioxidants, polyphenols, and other biologically active compounds that may help to protect against development or progression of cancers,” according to the American Cancer Society. The 30-year Cancer Prevention Study by the American Cancer Society found that participants who drank about four cups of coffee per day reduced their risk of oral/pharyngeal cancer by 49 percent, compared to those who drank little or no coffee per day.[2]

Colorectal Cancer: Researchers at the University of Southern California, Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center of Keck Medicine, found that compared with people who did not drink coffee, people who drank one or two cups daily reduced their risk of colon cancer by 22 percent while those who drank three or more cups lowered their risk by 59 percent. Researchers reported that coffee was associated with a lower risk of colorectal cancer, and the more coffee the subjects drank, the lower their risk became.[3]

Liver Cancer: Studies suggest that people who drink at least a cup a day have a lower risk of liver cancer compared to those who only indulge occasionally. Some data indicated that drinking three or more cups daily reduced that risk by more than 50 percent.[4]

Skin Cancer: A large US cohort study by the National Institute of Health and AARP found higher coffee intake reduced the risk of developing melanoma.[5]

Prostate Cancer: Men who drink coffee regularly appear to lower their risk of prostate cancer, especially the lethal form, according to researchers at Harvard School of Public Health. Prostate cancer is the most frequently diagnosed form of cancer and the second leading cause of cancer death among US men.[6]

Uterine Cancer: Studies show there is an association between drinking coffee and lower endometrial cancer risk. The scientists found that coffee is a protective factor for uterine cancer.[7]

California Cancer Warning
A court battle that has been on-going for several years resulted in a California judge ruling that coffee companies, who did not want to settle financially out of court, must post cancer warnings about possible levels of acrylamide. Extreme levels of acrylamide have been shown to increase the risk of cancer in rats, but studies have not shown that acrylamide has caused cancer in humans. Acrylamide is a chemical compound that is contained in a number of plant-based foods and nearly every food that is baked, roasted, or fried. Acrylamide develops during the cooking process.

So, should you stop eating foods with acrylamide? The FDA’s recommendation is no, you should not: “FDA’s best advice for acrylamide and eating is that consumers adopt a healthy eating plan, consistent with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (2015-2020).”

Coffee expert Dr. Edward Giovannucci from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, spoke out against the cancer warning in a blog for the American Institute of Cancer Research, saying that there is no evidence that acrylamide causes cancer in humans[8]: “On a ‘cancer worry’ scale from 0 to 10, coffee should be solidly at 0 and smoking at 10; they should not have similar warning labels.”

Other experts from the American Institute of Cancer Research also point to over 1,000 studies that have determined coffee’s ability to lower the risk of cancer. Dr. Sanjiv Chopra, professor of medicine and former faculty dean for continuing medical education at Harvard Medical School, emphasizes the health benefits of coffee in his book The Big Five, and in numerous interviews: “There is no longer any doubt that coffee offers significant health benefits…. Coffee consists of hundreds of component chemicals, among them potassium, magnesium, and vitamin E, and is rich in antioxidants, especially chlorogenic acid.” In 2012 the National Institutes of Health released a landmark study demonstrating that coffee drinkers had an overall lower risk of death.[9]

Purity Coffee for Health
Most (if not all) coffee companies do not have a standard for acrylamide and other toxins, to keep levels in check. One company does have a strict standard for acrylamide and other harmful chemicals – Purity coffee. (USE CODE “DRCOFFEE” AT CHECKOUT FOR DISCOUNT)

Purity coffee is an organic premium coffee. Purity intentionally grows, farms, transports, and roasts their coffee to maximize healthy antioxidants and minimize harmful chemicals, such as pesticides, micro-toxins, acrylamides and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). To create the healthiest brewed coffee, they test the coffee at every step with strict standards. Purity uses a proprietary roasting method that roasts the beans just enough to reduce the acrylamide to the lowest levels and prevents over roasting, which risks the development of harmful polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). This sweet spot, which produces the healthiest beans, is around a medium roast. Light and dark roasts are unhealthy.

In three independent laboratory studies, 49 leading coffee brands were tested. In each one, Purity coffee ranked superior to all the other brands.[10] On average, Purity coffee contained over 60% more antioxidants than the other leading organic coffee brands tested; and of all the brands tested for contaminants, over 60% tested positive for mold and the toxin ochratoxin A. Purity contained two times the amount of antioxidants as the other brands and was free of all contaminants. How do they accomplish this? Purity produces coffee for its health benefits. No other coffee company in the world roasts deliberately for health benefits. It is an added benefit that it also tastes great.

Conclusion
Years ago, the medical community thought coffee might be unhealthy. Today that thought has been reversed, as updated research and over 1,000 new studies have shown the health benefits of coffee. Hundreds of these studies have been done on coffee and cancer, and the reports have shown a decrease in cancer risk.

The healthiest coffee you can drink, and therefore the best to aid in fighting cancer, is Purity coffee.


References

1. More detailed findings confirm that coffee protects against breast cancer recurrence (press release). Lund University. April 21,2015.
2. Berman J. Study: Coffee consumption reduces risk of oral cancer. Available at: https://www. voanews.com/a/coffee-cancer/1564648.html. Accessed April 27, 2018.
3. Schmit S, et al. Coffee consumption and the risk of colorectal cancer. Cancer, Epidemiology, Biomarkers, and Prevention. April 2016;25(4).
4. Bravi F, et al. Coffee reduces risk for hepatocellular carcinoma: An updated meta-analysis. Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology. November 2013: 11(11):1413-1421.
5. Loftfield E, et al. Coffee drinking and cutaneous melanoma risk in the NIH-AARP diet and health study. JNCI. February 2015; 107(2).
6. Coffee may reduce risk of lethal prostate cancer in men. Harvard School of Public Health. May 17, 2011.
7. Je Y, et al. A prospective cohort study of coffee consumption and risk of endometrial cancer over a 26-year follow-up. Cancer, Epidemiology, Biomarkers, and Prevention. November 22, 2011.
8. Giovannucci E. Coffee doesn’t need cancer warning. Available at: http://blog.aicr.org/2018/03/30/coffee-doesnt-need-cancer-warning/. Accessed May 3, 2018.
9. NIH study finds that coffee drinkers have lower risk of death. National Institutes of Health. May 16, 2012.
10. Independent laboratory tests. Purity Coffee. Available at: https://puritycoffee.com/lab-results/. Accessed May 3, 2018.

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