A study of almost fifty thousand men appears in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
Charles Leipart is a man at risk for prostate cancer. Over 65, psa blood tests above the normal range, but there's something in his favor, says today's study. He's a coffee drinker.
"I start the day always with about three cups of coffee. In the evening, if I'm out at a restaurant, I might have coffee then," Leipart said.
But four, even five cups of coffee may not be enough.
The study says it took six or more cups of coffee a day, regular or decaf, to reduce the risk for prostate cancer, and then dramatically, but only for the most lethal, high grade type of the cancer.
"Most prostate cancer happens to be low grade and non-lethal so that for the majority of people drinking 6 cups of coffee, either caffeinated or decaf, it will have little likelihood of them developing prostate cancer," Dr. Franklin Lowe of St. Luke's Roosevelt said.
There have been a dozen studies showing either no effect of coffee or even a negative link to the disease. This coffee study, though, was very large and well done scientifically.
What's in coffee that may reduce cancer risk? It's a big source of antioxidants, natural cancer fighting chemicals. It's also an anti-inflammatory, and may positively affect sex hormone levels in the blood.
So much coffee may have downsides, including irritability and a lot of trips to the bathroom each day. Charles thinks the upside of reports such as this is that it keeps men over 50 aware of the cancer. Dr. Lowe thinks there are better ways to reduce risk.
"The most important thing in terms of prostate health is to keep your heart healthy, heart health and prostate health go hand in hand," Lowe said.
A low fat diet and exercise are not only good for the heart, but they also reduce your risk of prostate cancer. There is no reason to start drinking coffee if you're not doing it now, because of the large amount of coffee needed here to have a good effect and because of conflicting data up until now about how, and if, coffee reduces prostate cancer risk.