Large cancer study has good news for daily coffee drinkers

Coffee has been the subject of dozens of studies, some focusing on its health benefits, others on its potential health risks. Though we know the polyphenols found in coffee help promote good health, there's no clear word on whether coffee is a health risk if consumed frequently. A new large cancer study involving 300,000 people may have the answer.

Past research

As with herbal teas, coffee beans contain polyphenols that confer a number of health benefits, but some studies have found that drinking too much coffee comes with some risks. These studies often revolve around the caffeine in coffee and the increase in blood pressure that can result from consuming too much of the stimulant. Others have pointed toward potential carcinogens resulting from the bean roasting process.

Back in May, a study was published that found drinking up to around six cups of coffee daily didn't have a negative effect on drinkers, at least when it came to an increased risk of heart disease. In that case, drinking more than half a dozen cups of coffee daily was linked to a 22-percent increase in one's risk of developing heart disease.

Coffee and cancer

Heart disease isn't the only long-term potential health consequence people face. Cancer is very common and a vast body of research has found that many things over the course of one's life may contribute to its development. Drinking coffee every day, at least based on a new study out of QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, isn't one of them.

The study analyzed data on more than 300,000 people and found that drinking coffee daily doesn't have any impact on a person's risk of being diagnosed with — or dying from — cancer. This finding applied to all types of cancer, according to the researchers, who noted that the number of cups the participants consumed daily didn't change the risk.

A number of compounds found in coffee beans may have anti-tumor effects, but scientists haven't yet established whether drinking coffee may help protect humans from cancer. In this study, the researchers found that coffee neither increased nor decreased cancer risk in cases of breast, prostate, lung, and ovarian cancer, but that some 'inconclusive evidence' indicates coffee may have a slight effect on colorectal cancer risk.

The study's lead researcher Jue-Sheng Ong said:

There was some inconclusive evidence about colorectal cancer, where those who reported drinking a lot of coffee had a slightly lower risk of developing cancer, but conversely examination of data from those people with a higher genetic predisposition to drink more coffee seemed to indicate a greater risk of developing the disease.

Ultimately, the study indicates that modifying how much coffee you drink every day likely won't have an impact on whether you develop cancer.