Coffee May Protect Against Head and Neck Cancers

June 21, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Data on the effects of coffee on cancer risk have been mixed. However, results of a recent study add to the brewing evidence that drinking coffee protects against cancer, this time against head and neck cancer.

Full study results are published online first in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.

Using information from a pooled-analysis of nine studies collected by the International Head and Neck Cancer Epidemiology (INHANCE) consortium, participants who were regular coffee drinkers, that is, those who drank an estimated four or more cups a day, compared with those who were non-drinkers, had a 39 percent decreased risk of oral cavity and pharynx cancers combined.

Data on decaffeinated coffee was too sparse for detailed analysis, but indicated no increased risk. Tea intake was not associated with head and neck cancer risk.

The association is more reliable among those who are frequent, regular coffee drinkers, consuming more than four cups of coffee a day.

“Since coffee is so widely used and there is a relatively high incidence and low survival rate of these forms of cancers, our results have important public health implications that need to be further addressed,” said lead researcher Mia Hashibe, Ph.D., assistant professor in the department of family and preventive medicine at the University of Utah, Salt Lake City, and a Huntsman Cancer Institute investigator.

“What makes our results so unique is that we had a very large sample size, and since we combined data across many studies, we had more statistical power to detect associations between cancer and coffee,” she said.

At the AACR Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research Conference last December, researchers from Harvard presented data that showed a strong inverse association between coffee consumption and the risk of lethal and advanced prostate cancers — men who drank the most coffee had a 60 percent lower risk of aggressive prostate cancer than men who did not drink any coffee.

More recently, results of another study published in the January issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention showed a decreased risk of gliomas, or brain tumors, associated with coffee. This association was found among those who drank five or more cups of coffee or tea a day, according the researchers from the Imperial College, London.

, Biomarkers & Prevention editorial board member Johanna W. Lampe, Ph.D., R.D., believes this current analysis by Hashibe and colleagues provides strong, additional evidence for an association between caffeinated coffee drinking and cancer risk.

“The fact that this was seen for oral and pharyngeal cancers, but not laryngeal cancers, provides some evidence as to a possible specificity of effect,” said Lampe, who is a full member and associate division director in the division of public health sciences at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle., Wash.

“These findings provide further impetus to pursue research to understand the role of in head and neck prevention,” she added. Lampe is not associated with this study.

Additional research is warranted to characterize the importance of timing and duration of exposure and possible mechanisms of action, according to Hashibe.

More information: cebp.aacrjournals.org/

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Tracking how multiple myeloma evolves by sequencing DNA in the blood

December 10, 2017
Although people with multiple myeloma usually respond well to treatment, the blood cancer generally keeps coming back. Following genetic changes in how the disease evolves over time will help to understand the disease and, ...

Landmark CAR-T cancer study published

December 10, 2017
Loyola University Medical Center is the only Chicago center that participated in the pivotal clinical trial of a groundbreaking cancer treatment that genetically engineers a patient's immune system to attack cancer cells.

Study finds emojis promising tool for tracking cancer patients' quality of life

December 10, 2017
In findings presented to the American Society of Hematology, Mayo Clinic researchers found that using emojis instead of traditional emotional scales were helpful in assessing patients' physical, emotional and overall quality ...

Study explores use of checkpoint inhibitors after relapse from donor stem cell transplant

December 10, 2017
Immunotherapy agents known as checkpoint inhibitors have shown considerable promise in patients with hematologic cancers who relapse after a transplant with donor stem cells. Preliminary results from the first clinical trial ...

Blood test may help predict which breast cancers will recur

December 8, 2017
A blood test five years after breast cancer treatment helped identify some women who were more likely to relapse, long before a lump or other signs appeared, a preliminary study found.

Alcohol-abuse drug Antabuse kills cancer cells

December 8, 2017
A new study in Nature by an international team including researchers from Karolinska Institutet, reports that the alcohol-abuse drug Antabuse is effective against cancer. The study also identifies a potential mechanism of ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

mysticshakra
not rated yet Jun 21, 2010
Death prevents cancer also.

Why spend time and money looking for positive effects in an unhealthy substance? The last thing people need is more coffee and caffeine.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.