Five a Day Keeps Cancer Away?

A recent study on coffee and breast cancer has been circulating in the media for the last couple of weeks. A Swedish research team completed the study with a conclusion that seemed a bit indecisive. They found that a certain kind of cancer occurred less frequently in women who drank five or more cups of coffee per day than in women who drank no coffee. The researchers noted that breast cancer is a complex disorder, and coffee is somewhat complex in its chemical makeup as well. Previous research has pointed to coffee as both a potential cancer risk factor and a potential risk reducer. The most reliable conclusion that can be drawn from this is the need for more studies, but it appears that for the one cancer type, coffee is helpful. Scientists are not in agreement over what all the findings are saying, another reason for more studies before we rely too much on one study. This study alone is not enough to cause coffee lovers to change their coffee habits. If you love coffee and find it helpful for your well-being, you should probably continue to enjoy it. Moderation is still the key and five daily cups is at the upper limits of moderation. The problem is that these studies are not designed to isolate a cause and effect relationship. They only point out correlations. There are so many factors that could confuse the issue and affect the correlation. Certainly if one smoked while, before or after drinking coffee it might skew the association of coffee with fewer instances of cancer. Such a circumstance would probably link coffee with an increase in cancer. It’s hoped the researchers eliminated the smoking factor from the study, but this wasn’t mentioned. There might be other habits practiced by heavy coffee drinking women that would keep cancer at bay. Since cancer is heavily influenced by stress and worry, if the coffee helps relax the women, they might tend to be less likely to contract cancer. Some studies have even shown the placebo effect to be real; if the coffee drinkers believe the coffee will prevent cancer, a significant percentage will not get cancer. But most importantly, coffee has been found to have more antioxidants than dark fruits like blueberries, a factor which is most pertinent to coffee’s disease-fighting capability. Cancer and coffee both are complicated. The best thing we can do for health is to think positive and worry little. If coffee helps to encourage this, it is a healthful habit. Brew on in good health.

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