Findings of a new study published in the February issue of the Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention suggest that women who drink more coffee have reduced risks for endometrial cancer, which affects the lining of the uterus.
The U.S expects to see about 55,000 new cases of endometrial cancer this year. About 10,000 women diagnosed with the condition will die from it.
The results were based on the analysis of the dietary habits of over 2,800 women who were diagnosed with the condition. The researchers have found that women who drink four cups of coffee per day were 18 percent less likely to develop the cancer compared with those who only drink less than a cup of coffee a day.
"We were not surprised by the results that a high versus low intake of coffee was associated with a reduced risk for endometrial cancer, because they were consistent with what has been observed in previous studies," said study author Melissa Merritt, from the Imperial College London. "We used similar methods to investigate the association between coffee intake and endometrial cancer as previous studies."
At first glance, the results of the study could give women a good reason to indulge in coffee, but there are a number of things that should be noted about the study.
For one, although researchers did find a link between high coffee consumption and lower incidence of cancer, their study did not establish a cause and effect relationship, which means it did not provide evidence that drinking more coffee could reduce a person's risk for the condition.
The researchers were likewise uncertain as to why coffee may reduce cancer risk although it was suggested that coffee may reduce the estrogen levels in the body, which in turn alters the balance of the hormones. Some also suspect that the antioxidant found in coffee may be responsible for this as experts believe that antioxidants prevent and slow cell damage.
Dr. Robert Morgan, an oncologist from the City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center in California, said that it is not likely just the caffeine because other caffeine-containing foods are not associated with reduced endometrial cancer risk.
Regardless of the benefits of coffee, the adage too much of a good thing appears to also apply in this case. Caffeine can have unwanted side effects if taken in high doses. Drinking too much coffee, for instance, may cause insomnia, nausea and vomiting, nervousness, restlessness, stomach irritation and increased heart rate.
Endometrial cancer, or cancer of the lining of the uterus, hasn't been found to have a specific cause, but researchers have found that certain risks increase the likelihood of a woman experiencing the health problem, including hormonal imbalances, diabetes and obesity. A healthy diet and exercise can help to lower the risk of this health issue.