Italian coffee and prostate cancer

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Want to cut your risk of developing prostate cancer in half? Have a cup of coffee. Or three.

A new study from Italy (where coffee-drinking borders on religion) indicates that men drinking three or more cups of Italian-style coffee daily may reduce their chances of prostate cancer by fifty percent. The new research was designed by the Department of Epidemiology and Prevention – I.R.C.C.S. Neuromed, Italy which collaborated with the Italian National Institute of Health and the I.R.C.C.S. Istituto Dermopatico dell’Immacolata of Rome.

Previous studies on the effect that java consumption has on prostate cancer risk were inconclusive, according to first study author George Pounis.

Pounis and his colleagues learned that men who consumed at least three cups of Italian-style coffee every day were at a 53 percent lower risk of developing prostate cancer, compared with men who consumed fewer than three cups of joe per day. But if your cuppa's not caffeinated, don't expect any buzz or benefits.

The researchers discovered that the caffeinated coffee extracts reduced the aggregation of cancer cells and decreased their ability to metastasize, but these effects were almost non-existent with decaffeinated coffee extracts.

"The observations on cancer cells allow us to say that the beneficial effect observed among the 7,000 participants is most likely due to caffeine, rather than to the many other substances contained in coffee," notes study co-author Maria Benedetta Donati.

It's important to note that the researchers aren't blessing just any old cup of Starbucks or Dunkin' with the low prostate cancer risk seal of approval. The study was conducted on an Italian population known for its strong coffee culture. Italians pride themselves not only by the amount of coffee they consume, but also by the way in which it is made.

"They prepare coffee [the] rigorously Italian way: high pressure, very high water temperature, and with no filters," says study co-author Licia Iacoviello. "This method, different from those followed in other areas of the world, could lead to a higher concentration of bioactive substances.

"It will be very interesting, now, to explore this aspect. Coffee is an integral part of Italian lifestyle, which, we must remember, is not made just by individual foods, but also by the specific way they are prepared."

The research has been published in the International Journal of Cancer.