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Does coffee lower risks for mouth and throat cancer?

Dec 13, 2012

Does coffee lower mouth and throat cancer risks
Photo Source: FanPop.com

Drinking more than four cups of caffeinated coffee a day may significantly reduce the risk of dying from certain cancers, a new study says.

Regular coffee drinkers have about half the risk of dying from cancers of the mouth and pharynx (part of the throat between the mouth and nasal cavities) than those who never drink coffee or drink it only occasionally, authors of the American Cancer Society study reported.

The study was published online December 10 in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

“Coffee is one of the most  widely consumed beverages in the world, and contains a variety of antioxidants, polyphenols, and other biological active compounds that may help to protect against development or progression of cancers,” said Janet Hildebrand, the study’s lead author. “Our finding strengthens the evidence of a possible protective effect of caffeinated coffee in the etiology and/or progression of cancers of the mouth and pharynx.”

The researchers analyzed the link between drinking caffeinated coffee, decaffeinated coffee, or tea and the rate of contracting deadly forms of oral cancer. None of the 968,432 participants had cancer at the study’s beginning in 1989, but over the course of 26 years 868 study participants died of cancer of the mouth and pharynx.

The study noted that drinking more than four cups of caffeinated coffee a day was linked to a 49 percent lower risk of death from oral cancer.  Researchers reported that the risk of death from this form of cancer dropped with each cup of coffee consumed, regardless of gender or whether the participants smoked or drank.

Drinking two cups of decaffeinated coffee per day may have a similar benefit but the study found only a marginal statistical significance. No such link with oral cancer and tea was found.

“This is a provocative study and good news if you drink a lot of coffee,” said Dr. Marshall Posner, director of head and neck medical oncology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City.  Posner added however, that the study does not address the risk between developing cancer and consuming coffee.

“There are many behavioral factors among coffee drinkers and non-drinkers that might lead to lesser survival among subjects who did not drink coffee regularly,” he added.

Dr. Robert Kelsch, an oral pathologist at North Shore-LIJ Health System in New Hyde Park, New York, noted the study only addressed possible reduced death from oral cancers and does not suggest that caffeinated coffee will prevent anyone from getting oral cancer.

Sources: HealthDay, WebMD, Medill Reports, Cancer.org

Copyright 2012, Bloom Insurance Agency, LLC©

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