Coffee and Cancer

One of the reasons it’s so difficult to study the relationship between diet and cancer is because many dietary behaviors are associated with non-dietary behaviors. For example, the reason we used to think coffee drinking caused cancer was because people who drink coffee are more likely to have a cigarette in the other hand.

When you factor that out, though—for example, by looking at just nonsmokers who do or don’t drink coffee—we find that, if anything, coffee consumption may reduce the total cancer incidence.
Not by much, but, “Overall, according to the latest review, an increase in consumption of one cup of coffee per day was associated with about a 3% reduced risk of [cancers—especially] bladder cancer, breast [cancer], [mouth,] colorectal, endometrial, esophageal, [liver,] leukemic, pancreatic, and prostate cancers.”

Coffee beans aren’t really beans, but one is, after all, just soaking a powdered seed in some water. So, a reduction in cancer risk not that surprising.

Doctor’s Note

What about the caffeine though? Find out in What About the Caffeine? I still don’t recommend people drink coffee—not because it’s not healthy, but because there are even healthier choices. Coffee is like a banana—a common, convenient, plant-based food. If you have a choice, I’d encourage people to make healthier fruit choices (apples are better; berries are best), and choose a healthier beverage, like green tea. See my many videos on tea.

And note that the meta-analysis this video is based upon is open access, so you can download it by clicking on the link in the Sources Cited section, above.

For more context, check out my associated blog posts: Coffee CaveatsPoultry and Penis CancerGerson Therapy for Cancer?Avoid Cooked Meat CarcinogensTreating Parkinson’s Disease with Diet; and Breast Cancer & Alcohol: How Much Is Safe? 

In health,
Michael Greger, M.D.

Michael Greger, M.D., is a physician, New York Times bestselling author, and internationally recognized professional speaker on a number of important public health issues. Dr. Greger has lectured at the Conference on World Affairs, the National Institutes of Health, and the International Bird Flu Summit, testified before Congress, appeared on The Dr. Oz Show and The Colbert Report, and was invited as an expert witness in defense of Oprah Winfrey at the infamous “meat defamation” trial. Currently Dr. Greger proudly serves as the Director of Public Health and Animal Agriculture at the Humane Society of the United

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  1. I am a late stg IIIb breast cancer survivor… I love my coffee and smoke on and off… I think I have quit smoking at least a dozen times since my diagnosis in 2008. replacing coffee with herbal tea makes total sense! This last year, I started to do that with Turmeric tea and green tea. Thank you for your article! Annie


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