We now know that coffee doesn’t really help you stay alert, and that the only magic to be found in so-called Magic Power Coffee is a sudden disappearing act. So, is there any good news about the bean? Turns out there is, at least according to a new metastudy, which finds that coffee might help lower the risk of head and neck cancer.
The study, conducted by Mia Hashibe of the University of Utah, cross-referenced data from nine studies of head and neck cancers with the coffee-consumption patterns of subjects in the studies. The results:
Her analysis showed that people who drank more than four cups of coffee a day had a 39% decreased risk of cancers of the oral cavity and pharynx combined, compared with those who didn’t drink coffee.
“Since coffee is so widely used and there is a relatively high incidence and low survival rate of these forms of cancers, our results have important public health implications that need to be further addressed,” said Hashibe.
The study doesn’t point to a specific ingredient in coffee as being helpful, and other scientists warn that such studies don’t take all relevant factors into account:
Ed Yong, head of health information at Cancer Research UK, said: “Coffee is a cocktail of hundreds of different chemicals and we don’t know which of these, if any, could affect the risk of cancer. You often only see benefits in people who drink a great deal of coffee. And studies like these rely on people with cancer remembering how much coffee they drank years ago. We now need studies that look at larger groups of initially healthy people to see if the amount of coffee they drink affects their cancer risk over time.”
That said, we’ll go grab a cup just in case. At least we don’t have to worry about it keeping us awake and alert all night.
Coffee may protect against head and neck cancers [guardian.co.uk]