A cup of coffee a day may keep endometrial cancer away, according to a new research study. So, if you love your caffeine, drink up.
A large prospective cohort study found that women who drank four or more cups of coffee every day decreased their endometrial cancer risk by 25 percent, compared to their peers who drank fewer cups of java. We’re talking about regular, caffeinated coffee here.
Scientists from Harvard University followed 67,470 women (between 34 and 59) over a period of 26 years. Women who drank four (or more) cups of coffee each day had a 25 percent lower risk of developing endometrial cancer, compared to women who drank very little coffee or no coffee at all. And for those who drank two or three cups of coffee daily, they had a 7 percent lower risk of developing this cancer.
Coffee and Cancer Prevention
So, how exactly does coffee protect a woman from developing endometrial cancer? It’s how caffeine affects female hormones that might answer that question. Previous studies have proven that caffeine intake influences levels of the sex hormone estradiol, the sex hormone binding globulin, C-peptide (a byproduct of insulin production), and adiponectin (a hormone produced in fat cells that helps insulin be more effective in your body).
The cause of endometrial cancer is still unknown, but it’s believed that hormones play a role – especially increased levels of estrogen. High levels of estrogen may result in excessive endometrial growth and endometrial cancer. Diabetes and obesity also increases the risk for endometrial cancer.
The Benefits of Drinking Coffee
In the last few years, coffee studies have linked caffeine consumption to decreasing your risk of prostate cancer, liver cancer, depression, Parkinson’s disease, type 2 diabetes, and cirrhosis of the liver. Animal studies have even suggested that drinking study may protect against Alzheimer’s disease.
Coffee is also a rich source of healthful antioxidants, according to research published in a May 2011 issue of Journal of Physical Chemistry.
The Take-Home Message of this New Caffeine and Cancer Study
The new study doesn’t prove that coffee is directly responsible for lowering the risk for endometrial cancer, but it’s possible that there is a cause-and-effect relationship.
The Harvard researchers urge caution for coffee drinkers, though. Because the women in this study tended not to add substantial cream or sugar into their coffees, drinking coffee with a ton of sugar or cream may not have the same cancer reduction benefits.
But just because this study suggests that drinking coffee may decrease your risk of endometrial cancer, don’t go and drink more coffee. Drinking too much caffeinated coffee can have potential side effects, including causing you to feel jittery, anxious and irritable. Plus, too much coffee can cause insomnia, heart palpitations, and even heartburn.
This study was funded by the National Institutes of Health, and it was published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention.
What is Endometrial Cancer?
Endometrial cancer is cancer that affects the tissue that lines your uterus (your uterine lining, or your endometrium). The National Cancer Institute reports that there are 46,470 new cases of endometrial cancer annually in the United States, and 8,120 women will die from the disease.
Common signs and symptoms of endometrial cancer include abnormal uterine bleeding and irregular periods; bleeding between periods; vaginal bleeding after menopause; long or heavy periods of bleeding after age 40; lower abdominal pain or pelvic cramping and vaginal discharge after menopause. Contact your doctor if you notice any of these symptoms.