Italian coffee 'cuts prostate cancer risk'

Good news for men who love coffee, a new study suggests drinking more than three cups of Italian-style coffee can halve a man's risk of prostate cancer. Drinking Italian-style coffee could significantly reduce a man's risk of prostate cancer, according to a new study by the Laboratory of Translational Medicine.

A study of 7000 Italian men found the consumption of three or more cups of coffee reduced the risk of the common cancer by 53 per cent.

But the coffee must be brewed the way Italians do, noted the authors.

"They prepare coffee rigorously: high pressure, very high water temperature and with no filters," said Licia Iacoviello, head of the Molecular and Nutritional Epidemiology Laboratory at the Neuromed Institute in Pozzilli, Italy.

It's thought this method, different from those followed in other areas of the world, could lead to a higher concentration of bioactive substances that may prevent the formation of prostate cancer cells.

"It will be very interesting, now, to explore this aspect. Coffee is an integral part of Italian lifestyle, which, we must remember, is not made just by individual foods, but also by the specific way they are prepared," she added.

One in five men in Australia are at risk of prostate cancer, with about about 17,000 new cases in Australia diagnosed every year.

There have been a number of international studies conducted on the effect coffee has on the incidence of prostate cancer but the scientific evidence has been considered "insufficient", explained lead author, Dr George Pounis at Neuromed.

"Our goal, therefore, was to increase knowledge in this field and to provide a clearer view," he said.

About seven thousand male residents of the Molise region were observed for four years on average.

Their coffee consumption habits were recorded and then compared with the prostate cancer cases that occurred over time.

Dr Pounis said those who drank more than three cups a day were 53 per cent less likely to develop prostate cancer than those who drank less coffee.

Researchers then confirmed their finding by testing the action of coffee extracts on prostate cancer cells in the lab.

Extracts containing caffeine significantly reduced cancer cells proliferation, as well as their ability to metastasise.

The same effect was not seen with decaf coffee.

"The observations on cancer cells allow us to say that the beneficial effect observed among the seven thousand participants is most likely due to caffeine, rather than to the many other substances contained in coffee," said Maria Benedetta Donati, Neuromed's Head of Laboratory of Translational Medicine.

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