Is Coffee Linked to Reduced Risk of Cancer?

By Timothy S. Collins

Over the past few decades, thousands and thousands of studies of coffee have been done worldwide. Many significant and positive health benefits about coffee have been uncovered, much to the delight of coffee lovers everywhere.

Coffee may indeed play a role in cancer protection due to its naturally occurring polyphenolic antioxidants as well as heat-producing antioxidants. Coffee delivers even more antioxidants than green tea. The antioxidants in coffee beans become especially potent during the roasting process and offer properties that are beneficial to human health. For example, coffee components can induce the expression of carcinogen-detoxifying enzymes which can help reduce cancer risk. You can call coffee the "antioxidant power food."

Coffee is the major single source of dietary antioxidants, far more than wine, chocolate, tea, and individual fruits and vegetables. Green coffee beans contain about 1,000 antioxidants and the brewing process adds about 300 more. The roasting process creates an additional set of healthful compounds, such as antioxidants, which are unique to coffee alone.

Why are antioxidants beneficial and how do they help reduce the risk of cancer?

To answer this question, let's understand first what oxidants are.

  • Oxidants are active oxygen components necessary for normal functioning of the body.
  • Oxidants are part of the body's own defense system against damaging micro-organisms.
  • Oxidants can cause oxidative damage to biological molecules of healthy body tissues.
  • For this reason, oxidants can contribute to various diseases such as cancers or cardiovascular problems.
  • Cigarette smoke, air pollutants, radiation and tissue inflammation are all possible sources of oxidants.

The role of an antioxidant is to help reduce oxidation reactions

  • Antioxidants reduce damage to body tissues. They do the opposite of oxidants.
  • In layman's terms, antioxidants can reduce the risk of cancer and other health problems.
  • Antioxidant substances include, for example, vitamin E, vitamin C, Beta-Carotene, Selenium, Uric acid, and other naturally occurring proteins found in the human body.
  • In addition, antioxidants are also found in foods. For example, oranges, blackcurrants, fruit juices, potatoes, Brussels sprouts are all excellent sources of vitamin C.
  • Vegetable oils, cereals, nuts, seeds and eggs are good sources of vitamin E.
  • Fish oils, liver, dairy products, and carrots are prime sources of vitamin A.
  • The antioxidant levels vary from one food to another. Antioxidants are also dependent upon the processing, storage and cooking of the foods.

Coffee, like a number of other drinks, contains antioxidants

  • However, coffee has been shown to contain four times as many antioxidants as tea which is considered very high in antioxidants.
  • Coffee, specifically, has one of the most prominent antioxidants, Chlorogenic acid, as well as caffeic acid, melanoidins and methylpyridinium.
  • As an example, scientists in Germany identified methylpyridinium as a very powerful antioxidant. Methylpyridium is found almost exclusively in coffee and was identified specifically as the link for the possible reduction of colon cancer risk.
  • This antioxidant boosts blood enzymes widely believed to protect against colon cancer.
  • Methylpyridinium is formed in the coffee roasting process from a chemical found naturally in coffee beans.
  • The stronger the coffee, the higher the level of the compound. This is why dark roasts contain two to three times more methylpyridinium than medium roasts.

Based on an extremely large number of scientific studies and ongoing research, there is also no conclusive evidence that coffee is associated with the development of bladder cancer, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, pancreatic cancer or other cancers. While these studies show that coffee consumption may have a protective effect against the development of cancer for certain parts of the body, scientists and organizations traditionally do not make categorical statements one way or the other. This is simply standard practice and judicious recognition that discoveries and research are dynamic and constantly happening.

However, overwhelmingly, studies and researchers note that coffee does not cause cancer. They also continue to publicize their findings about components and properties of coffee that offer positive effects for health. Thus, providing more evidence to the benefits of coffee consumption, including reduced risk of cancer.

In conclusion, live a balanced life and eat a good diet for the best nutrition possible. Exercise and avoid excesses in anything. And by all means go ahead and enjoy a cup of specialty coffee. It is good for you and it also tastes great!

Timothy S. Collins
Article by Timothy S. Collins
Timothy ("Tim") S. Collins, the author, is called by those who know him "The Gourmet Coffee Guy." He is an expert in article writing who has done extensive research online and offline in his area of expertise, coffee marketing, as well as in other areas of personal and professional interest. Come visit the author's website:

© Copyright - Timothy S. Collins. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.

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