On the heals of a giant epidemiological study of coffee released last month showing a reduced risk of melanoma for heavy coffee drinkers, new British research this month also shows women who drink coffee have lower risks of endometrial cancer, a cancer of the lining of the uterus.
This study, using data from 3 studies totaling more than 450,000 women, found that women who drink more than 3 cups of coffee per day had an 18% lower risk of endometrial cancer. The study analyzed more than 80 different nutrients looking for correlative data, and coffee was the only chemopreventive substance found in both studies, the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) study, and 2 Nurses Health Studies.
This is not the first time coffee drinking has been shown to reduce the risk of endometrial cancer. Several international studies have described this link, but no study has yet identified the specific anticancer mechanism within coffee. While caffeine is an obvious ingredient to study, a 2007 study tested this possibility and found no link between caffeine consumption and endometrial cancer risk. In the current study, researchers did not track caffeinated vs. decaffeinated coffee drinking.
Other theories suggest that coffee may moderate estrogen levels in hormone-driven cancers; when estrogen levels are elevated relative to progesterone, the risk of endometrial cancer increases. Coffee also contains a variety of antioxidants which may protect against free radicals implicated in cancer. Data from a 2009 Swedish study of over 60,000 women also showed coffee reduced the risk of endometrial cancer by 12% for every cup of coffee per day, however the “association seemed largely confined to overweight and obese women.”
The new British study was published in the February issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.