If you are a coffee drinking man, you just might be giving yourself a health boost. According to the latest research, coffee may do your prostate a world of good, but you need to drink a lot of it to reap the benefits.
The study, conducted at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, showed that regularly consuming six or more cups of coffee daily can reduce your risk of developing lethal prostate cancer by 60 percent.1 If that sounds like more coffee than you can handle in one day, drinking one to three cups a day provides some benefit too. That amount was associated with a 30 percent lower risk of fatal prostate cancer compared to those who don't drink coffee at all.
The researchers obtained their information on 48,000 men from the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study, a long-term trial that examines dietary habits and their connection to various diseases. Between 1986 and 2006, the participants were given questionnaires every four years that asked about food-related topics including the amount of coffee consumed each day.
Tracking of the volunteers continued through 2008, and during this time period, 5,035 of the men had been diagnosed with prostate cancer. Of those diagnosed, 642 of the cases were fatal, wherein the malignancy had spread to other organs or the disease was the cause of death. Interestingly, drinking coffee only seems to confer a faintly lower risk for actually developing prostate cancer; the risk factor for lethal cancer, however, was markedly improved for coffee drinkers.
Also, the benefits were the same whether the men consumed caffeinated coffee or decaf, so it is likely related to the antioxidants in coffee rather than the caffeine. On the other hand, previous studies have found that caffeine2 can regulate the circulation of testosterone, dyhydrotestosterone, and other sex hormones, as well as keep insulin levels in check, which is believed to have an influence on the prostate.
But before you jump on the coffee bandwagon and get in line at your local Starbucks six times a day, keep in mind that there are some definite drawbacks to java drinking too. The first and most obvious is caffeine, which may put a little spring in your step each morning, but it can also keep you up at night. Drinking four to seven cups a day has been linked to nervousness, restlessness, irritability, nausea, irregular heartbeat, headaches, and anxiety.
Then again, the current research did show that decaf is just as beneficial to the prostate as caffeinated coffee, so avoiding all that caffeine would seem to be a step in the right direction. However, decaf is not ideal either. Like its caffeinated cousin, decaf can deplete calcium from the body, flush out water-soluble vitamins including vitamin C and most of the B's, and cause stomach disorders such as acid reflux and ulcers. Decaf has also been shown to raise LDL cholesterol levels and promote fat buildup in the liver. It is also not caffeine-free. Although each cup only contains about seven mg of caffeine, that can add up to more than 40 mg a day when you are drinking six cups of it. And most decaf is made using solvents such as methylene chloride, which are poisonous.
So the bottom line is you are probably better off sticking with caffeine in your coffee. Just drink it early enough in the day so it doesn't affect your sleep at night. Drink lots of water, too, to compensate for the dehydration brought on by coffee. Try to avoid other forms of caffeine such as soda and energy drinks that are all about the buzz with none of the benefits. It's definitely preferable not to use caffeine as part of a daily ritual each and every morning to start your day. Drink it selectively, if possible, to get the benefits without all of the negatives. And take at least two days off each week -- totally caffeine free -- to allow all caffeine to clear from your body on a regular basis. A little clean-up of the system can go a long way.
Or you can avoid the whole mess, and cut to the heart of matter. Follow the Baseline of Health Program to minimize the accumulation of toxins and heavy metals that can aggravate the prostate and make regular use of a good men's formula that regulates dihydrotestosterone (DHT) and SHBG, which binds hormones such as DHT to the prostate and thereby encourages excessive cell growth.
1 Wilson, Kathryn M.; Kasperzyk, Julie L.; Rider, Jennifer R.; et al. "Coffee Consumption and Prostate Cancer Risk and Progression in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study." Journal of the National Cancer Institute. 17 May 2011. Oxford University Press. 13 June 2011. <http://jnci.oxfordjournals.org/content/103/11/876.abstract?sid=71e53eb2-4a9a-43f1-9ca8-5245e7fd2278>.
2 Fischer TW, Hipler UC, Elsner P. "Effect of caffeine and testosterone on the proliferation of human hair follicles in vitro." Int J Dermatol. 2007 Jan; 46(1):27-35. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17214716>