Coffee, Caffeine, and Cancer: What the Research Reveals


Does Coffee Cause or Prevent Cancer?

Just decades ago doctors and health professionals were warning about the dangers of having too much coffee because of the risk that caffeine was thought to have on the body.

However, the last decade has shed a lot of light on the health benefits of coffee and its relationship to cancer.

Many decade or more long studies have been coming to a close and the results have been changing everything the medical profession thought they knew about coffee and how it influences the risks of getting cancer.

Study after study has been showing the cancer fighting properties of coffee because of the rich antioxidants it contains.

In fact, with most studies we aren’t just talking a cup or two a day since most studies show greater benefit when four or more caffeinated coffees are consumed daily.

Recent Caffeine, Coffee, and Cancer Studies

Here are just a few of the studies that support the notion that caffeinated coffee reduces risk of certain types of cancer.

  1. Oral Cancer: More than 4 cups of coffee a day decrease oral and head cancers by 39%.
  2. Uterine Cancer: Woman who drink more than two cups of coffee a day have less chance of uterine cancer.
  3. Prostate Cancer: Men who have 6 cups of coffee a day reduce their prostate cancer risk by 60%.
  4. Brain Cancer: At least 5 cups of coffee prevents certain types of brain cancer by 40%.
  5. Colon Cancer: At least 2 cups of coffee a day can cut colon cancer risk. A newer study showed that colon cancer patients who drank four or more servings of coffee a day were 42% less likely to have bowel cancer recurrence after surgery and treatment. This study was conducted by the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. An even newer study also supported this previous research regarding the reduced risk of colorectal cancer among coffee drinkers.
  6. Breast Cancer: At least 3 cups of coffee a day can prevent or delay the onset of certain types of breast cancer. Another study showed that at least 2 cups of coffee consumed along side the breast cancer drug tamoxifen, resulted in 49% less early breast cancer recurrence among breast cancer patients in Sweden.
  7. Liver Cancer: Coffee drinkers have 41% less instance of liver cancer. A more recent study showed that 1-3 cups of coffee a day reduces risk of developing hepatocellular carcinoma by 29%. Link
  8. Endometrial Cancer: Women who consume at least 3 cups of coffee a day have a 19% decreased risk of developing endometrial cancer, which claims the lives of about 10,000 women in the USA each year. The research.
  9. Caffeine protects against lung cancer. A new study published in the Experimental Hematology & Oncology journal showed that caffeine inhibits a couple of proteins found in lung cancer cells, which in turn prevents the cell’s growth and reproduction. The study.
  10. Skin Cancer: A recent study published in The Journal of the National Cancer Institute found that caffeinated coffee drinkers were less likely to develop melanoma. The more coffee people consumed the less risk was observed. Study abstract.

Caffeinated Coffee as Part of a Healthy Diet

While the coffee/cancer research isn’t definitive, it does reveal that drinking coffee is probably far more beneficial than harmful as long as the person can metabolize caffeine correctly and doesn’t suffer from a caffeine allergy or from excessive use.

In most of the studies, it was found that decaffeinated coffee didn’t appear to have the same effect, which is probably due to the decaffeinating process removing many of the antioxidants.

However, we would suspect that people who eat poor quality food and engage in unhealthy habits such as smoking and excessive drinking would not likely experience the cancer fighting properties coffee has to offer.

But, coffee as part of a healthy diet rich in fresh vegetables and fruit will most likely have the greatest anticancer benefits.

People should also note that because of the caffeine in coffee, moderation is also recommended and less than 400mg of caffeine from all sources a day seems to be a safe level for most healthy adults.

The World Health Organization recently removed coffee from their list of possible carcinogens. They cited that there is an overwhelming amount of research that coffee can promote health and actually inhibit cancer. However, they did note that drinking coffee at temperatures in excess of 140 degrees Fahrenheit can increase the risk of cancers of the throat and esophagus. This temperature is much higher than which coffee is typically consumed.

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  • doody

    Why would these antioxidants not be present in decaf? I love energy and, no offense, but that’s partly why I don’t want to be addicted to caffeine.

  • ted

    Not sure, but many of the studies mentioned that decaf coffee didn’t have the same results or correlation. Perhaps they are removed or lessened when they remove the caffeine. It’s obvious that decaf coffee doesn’t have the same flavor as regular gram for gram.

  • i’m not suprised. i drink at least two cups a day, and i know all the wise tales about “it makes your shorter) are bull because i am a teen, i drink coffee every day, and i am very tall for my age & frequently growing taller.

  • Allie

    @ Hypernegro – lol well lucky you. maybe its your genes? ive been drinking energy drinks since i was 13 and im now 16. both of my bio parents are tall, 5′ 8” + and im only 5′ 3”. -sigh-

  • KK

    @Doody: Many companies chemically process regular coffee beans with methylene chloride or ethyl acetate to decaffeinate them. That’s probably why decaf coffee isn’t necessarily beneficial for people. Some companies naturally decaffeinate their coffee using charcoal filters or carbonated water. This way is optimal for a person’s health since they leave chemicals out of the process. I know Kona doesn’t use chemicals at all in their coffee products.

  • Jack

    And you expected doctorsto tell you that coffee is bad for you? HA HA HA, think of the financial impact, when coffee IS MORE EXPENSIVE THAN GASOLENE. WAKE UP AND SMELL THE COFFEE. It is good for bowel cleansing that’s about it. As for pancreatic cancer, there was a research in the 80’s that never went on for some reason ( would there be a Starbucks or Dunkin Donnuts, perhaps but with fewwer stores).

  • Jack

    From web site “Coffee & Health” :

    “Despite the positive results of studies looking at coffee consumption and pancreatic cancer in 1970 and 1981, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) now considers the evidence inadequate and attributes the results to confounding factors, including smoking9.

    More recently, the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF), in a report reviewing over 50 studies11, found no increase in risk of developing pancreatic cancer with coffee consumption.

    Since then, further studies, including four meta-analyses, have confirmed the absence of a relationship between moderate coffee consumption and increased risk of developing pancreatic cancer5, 14-17. Some, but not all, of these most recent studies suggest that regular coffee drinking is linked to a lower risk of developing pancreatic cancer5,14,15.”

  • afda

    Have you ever popped a balloon?

  • dc matthews

    Energy drinks are not at all the same as black coffee . Be very careful of those. At 16 you shouldn’t be needing either to get/stay going. If you do, maybe you need to look at your diet or other health factors.

  • James Witherspoon

    Hi there, I know this is 6 years old (and my god, decaf has changed a lot in those six years). Decaf can give you cancer, it’s so much worse than whatever reason you avoid normal coffee – although I think this has somewhat improved in the last few years. The method for decaffinating a coffee bean is to soak it in a carcinogenic solution made up of horriffic chemicals you wouldn’t want near you. The water removes the flavour and the caffeine from the bean. The solution is then removed and all the caffeine/antioxidants/everything chemically active about the coffee itself is removed by the addition of some other toxic chemical. What is left – the flavour and carcinogenic liquid – is transferred back to the beans which soak in it and absorb the flavour back. But as well as this they absorb some of the harmful chemicals which you then drink. It’s not good 😛

  • Fiftyseven

    Why are all my coffee drinking friends getting cancer? Could it be the insecticide Chlorpyrifos, that has been linked to birth defects? Or perhaps Disulfoton, highly toxic to birds and fish? Methyl parathion anyone? Or perhaps you prefer Triadimefon and Cypermethrin with your caffeine habit?

    Coffee is not good stuff. The way it is grown, even in “organic” conditions, is terrible for human health. But try to tell the industry that. Keep those coffee machines a-brewin!

  • Daryl

    Coffee is very acidic. You can remove and dissolve the enamel off your teeth. Just ask your dentist
    Why would you want to put it in your stomach !

  • Daryl

    Cancer cells Thrive in acidity !

  • Ted
  • danny

    the pH of coffee is roughly 5. Where the pH of your stomach acid is between 1 to 3 so lets say 2. That means the fluid that your body naturally produces and fills your stomach with is 1000x more acidic than coffee. the acidity of coffee will do little to your stomach

  • QB

    BLACK leather gloves

  • QB

    BLACK Leather gloves GIVE you CANCER

  • Ryan

    Yeah that is bs, the truth is that excess caffeine or caffeine at inappropriate times leads too poor sleeping habits and ess sleep is directly linked to growth patterns. So in moderation, it’s actually not all that bad.

  • Pam

    Just eat a healthy diet and skip the coffee. You will get all the antioxidants you need from the fresh fruit and veg and non of the harmful effects of the caffeine. Much safer in my opinion.

  • disgustman

    I have been taking 1/2 a lime in warm wasser every morning to balance my Ph
    levels, for years and this is where to start for a healthy body

Last Modified: July 10, 2017


  • Holick, C. N., Smith, S. G., Giovannucci, E., & Michaud, D. S. (2010). Coffee, tea, caffeine intake, and risk of adult glioma in three prospective cohort studies. Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention, 19(1), 39-47.
  • Wang, G., Bhoopalan, V., Wang, D., Wang, L., & Xu, X. (2015). The effect of caffeine on cisplatin-induced apoptosis of lung cancer cells. Experimental Hematology & Oncology, 4(1), 5.
  • Loftfield, E., Freedman, N. D., Graubard, B. I., Hollenbeck, A. R., Shebl, F. M., Mayne, S. T., & Sinha, R. (2015). Coffee Drinking and Cutaneous Melanoma Risk in the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study. Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 107(2), dju421.
  • Rosendahl, A. H., Perks, C. M., Zeng, L., Markkula, A., Simonsson, M., Rose, C., ... & Jernström, H. (2015). Caffeine and Caffeic Acid Inhibit Growth and Modify Estrogen Receptor and Insulin-like Growth Factor I Receptor Levels in Human Breast Cancer. Clinical Cancer Research, 21(8), 1877-1887.