After some time of uncertainty, a new study may finally put to rest the concern that drinking coffee can lead to cancer. Or, rather, new research indicates that drinking coffee does not change a person’s risk for cancer diagnosis.
According to senior study author, Associate Professor Stuart MacGregor, the large Mendelian randomization study observed data from more than 300,000 people, showing that drinking coffee every day did not appear to have any effect on the development of cancer.
The QIMR Berghofer Statistical Genetics Group head assures, “We know that coffee is one of the most popular drinks in the world, and there continue to be mixed messages about the role it plays in disease. We also know that a preference for coffee is heritable.”
He describes that the research was two-pronged, looking both at whether or not cancer rates differ among people who have different levels of self-reported coffee consumption and also whether this same trend would appear if that self-reported coffee consumption were replaced with a genetic predisposition towards coffee consumption.
The QIMR Berghofer study analyzed and compared cancer data collected from the UK Biobank cohort, taken from more than 46,000 people who had received a diagnoses for the most invasive forms of cancer. This population included roughly 7,000 people who died from their cancer.
Effectively, MacGregor says, “We found there was no real relationship between how many cups of coffee a person had a day and if they developed any particular cancers. The study also ruled out a link between coffee intake and dying from the disease.”
Scientists have long known coffee to contain a vast and complex multitude of bioactive ingredients, including substances—like caffeine and kahweol—that have been shown to anti-tumor affects. However, there has been distinct determination of coffee’s direct anti-cancer effect on humans. This study, then, helped to shed some light on the relationship, though it may only be a preliminary discover that requires a bit more study.
Indeed, Professor MacGregor concludes, “The health benefits of coffee have been argued for a long time, but this research shows simply changing your coffee consumption isn’t an effective way of protecting yourself form cancer.”
The results of this study have been published in the International Journal of Epidemiology.