Can Coffee Lower Cancer Risk?

Tired looking woman drinks a hot drink from mug

Most Americans drink at least 1 cup of coffee a day, and many feel like they can’t face the morning without it. So wouldn’t it be great if our beloved beverage helped protect us from cancer? There is, in fact, some reason to believe it could. Coffee is brewed from beans that contain antioxidants, which are thought to have a protective effect against cancer.

Researchers have conducted more than 1,000 studies looking at this question, with mixed results. Some early studies seemed to show that coffee might increase risk of some cancer types. Since then, however, larger and better designed studies have weakened those conclusions. And many of the newer studies link coffee drinking to a lowered risk of some types of cancer, including prostate cancer, liver cancer, endometrial cancer, and some cancers of the mouth and throat.

But in some of these studies, the benefit was found in people who drank 4 to 6 cups of coffee a day, which is a lot. Too much caffeine can interfere with sleep, trigger migraines, and cause digestive problems. And if you take your coffee with cream and sugar, the added fat and calories can contribute to weight gain – which increases the risk for many types of cancer. According to Colleen Doyle, MS, RD, American Cancer Society managing director of nutrition and physical activity, the surest steps any of us can take to lower cancer risk are: don’t smoke, eat well, and be physically active.

And if you want to consume more antioxidants, consider adding more vegetables and fruits to your diet. Vegetables and fruits are rich sources of antioxidants, and studies show that people who eat more of them may be helping to lower their cancer risk.

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team
Our team is made up of doctors and master's-prepared nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

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