back to article Heavy coffee drinking wards off deadly cancer in men

Splendid news today for many Reg readers and journalists: a new study indicates that heavy coffee drinking staves off deadly prostate cancer in men. Some 47,911 US men were surveyed over the period 1986 to 2008 for the research. During this time some 5,035 of them developed prostate cancer with 642 dying of it. According to …


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  1. Bumpy Cat
    Thumb Up


    Now I have an answer for my wife when she says too much coffee is bad for me!

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I saw the Uncaged Monkeys last Sunday, Ben Goldacre assured us that the Daily Mail says that coffee both cures and causes cancer....

    The big thing that you've got to ask with surveys like this is: What other problems does it cause? Loading up on stimulants all the time is hardly going to be without side effects.

    1. Nigel 11


      The obvious things:

      Stimulant -> raised blood pressure -> increased heart attacks, strokes?

      Dark roast -> carcinogenic organic chemicals created -> digestive system cancer risk?

      These are guesses. A long-term study of heavy coffee drinkers against a control group is needed, before coffee can be recommended for warding off prostate cancer!

      1. Liam Johnson

        A long-term study

        You mean more that 50k men and longer than 22 years?

      2. Graham Wilson

        @Nigel 11 -- Yuh forgot 'Living'?

        'Tis deadly. Stats show it's the ultimate terminator.

        ...Back to my double-shot long-black sans sugar.

        Ahh, much better.

        Now where were we?

    2. Evil Auditor


      The other big thing that you've also got to ask with surveys like this is: is it correlation or cause?

    3. Luther Blissett

      The Daily Mail both cures and causes

      ... bedwetting, for example.

      But only in the neo-platonist logic of a Grauniad reader could the presence of contradictory attributes be a problem, threatened as they are by the marxist dogma of dialectic, which converts sufficient quantities into quality - oooh. For everyone else, mumbo jumbo apart, it's in the dosage.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Dead Vulture

      I wonder how many died of other things

      For example heavy smokers like me are unlikely to develop senile dementia but only because we don't live long enough.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward



    Not bloody likely.

    My "supposed" peers are as thick as a fat birds thigh.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "My "supposed" peers are as thick as a fat birds thigh."

      Words of "wisdom" from one of the biggest idiot on these forums.

      I am no peer of yours, I have an education, common sense and have no need to pour out bitterness and derision at every opportunity.

  4. HP Cynic


    Huzzah! Coffee Number 3 consumed, 30% risk reduction achieved for today.

    Until next year when they find it causes a 30% increased risk of heart failure or something.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Coincidence? I think not!

    An anagram of "prostate cancer's ills" is "espresso can cure it all".

    If you don't mind a 't' changing into a 'u'.

    1. Marvin the Martian
      IT Angle

      But more coffee is bad, says the anagrammologist.

      As a certified anagrammologist (i.e., someone who is allowed to advise on everything based on anagram-derived knowledge), I have to warn you: using the plural "espressi" for "many coffees a day", we see that it's not a wonder drug...

      Flipping the u around to an n: espressi cannot cure all

  6. John Hawkins
    Thumb Up


    I'd be happy to drink more coffee if it meant avoiding the finger in the rubber glove or, worse still, the dreaded biopsy. Not to mention the effects of op itself...

    1. The Fuzzy Wotnot

      Thanks a lot!

      Right in the middle of my sandwich, you rotten sod! A liquid lunch it is now then!

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Rather than coffee..

    I have my own way of lowing my prostate cancer risk. No side effects either. Well, apart from my eyesight..

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      ...just do it until you need glasses...

      that is all

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      Gotta keep the pipes clean

      .. at least once a day. This was also proven to help keep the doctor away too.

  8. Anonymous Coward


    Instead of all these people pumping out advice, "Do this! No, do that! No wait, don't do that anymore it's bad for you, try this one instead! No, wait!"

    How about we all get out for some regular exercise and eat a healthy, balanced diet? Duh, of course! Stupid me! That would involve making an effort, having to do something involving a little hard work and some thought.

    1. HollyHopDrive

      While I accept your point....

      .....if you work in IT thats not an option. As we all know, swigging coffee, eating crap and wearing faded t-shirts that are too small to put ones modest belly in is what earns you the respect. Its always the same, the thin bloke who cycles everywhere never really fits in and you know the fatty bum bum with the 200+ plastic coffee cups stacked on his desk is the man to ask. (Except at lunchtime when he's sipping away on the fine amber nectar in a local boozery.)

      But I'm guessing you are one of those thin guys who eats a couscous salad for lunch.....

      Anyway, based purely on the register, thats now less yorkshire tea and an increase in coffee.....



    2. Liam Johnson


      You do realise that the people saying "Do this! No, do that!" are generally the same people saying regular exercise is good for you? I don't see why you should ignore some of the advice but follow other parts.

      Of course, without changing job, many people, including me, have no option but to sit around in front of a PC. During the day, we can enjoy the health benefits of a nice cup of coffee. The regular exercise will have to wait until the evening. They are not mutually exclusive.

      Or do you have some study which shows that coffee undoes the health benefits of exercise?

      No? Thought not.

  9. xyz Silver badge

    the active indredient is probably...

    ...the ciggie that goes with the coffee.

    @ac...Rather than coffee....use your left hand to rebalance your eyesight

  10. Anonymous Coward

    control group?

    How about the affect of fluids flushing through your system as opposed to any magic coffee ingredient, was there also a control group that just had water?

    Sounds like the research was sponsored by Nescafe?

  11. Cliff

    Reminds me of this...

    All of the Daily Mail's xxxx causes cancer vs xxxx cures cancer headlines distilled into one handy reference. Unsurprisingly, many things cause AND cure cancer, according to the cancer-obsessed newspaper.

    1. Denarius Silver badge

      damn, wrong commentard clicked on

      Just pointing out that the healthy exercise (yes, there is unhealthy exercise, its called the Olympics)

      one gains from staggering up to coffee machine in brew room must assist in upping ones activity.

      Not to mention getting some fluid leaking thru the rapidly drying bodies of IT workers in the usually dry, hot, stuffy (in both senses) collection of cubicles scathingly referred to to as offices.

      At least celibrate that for once, the killjoy, hairshirt, freeze in the dark mob have said something to be thankful for.

      As for survey sponsored by Nescafe comment, you dont work in IT, do you ? No-one I know drinks that stuff except under duress. Even in this scungy hell hole they buy a better brew which is actually quite drinkable for an instant. As for coffee machine, Geneva convention calls. Club across road does well as a result.

  12. Anonymous Coward

    Relative Risk

    20% less likely? But what was the original risk? If it was 0.1% to start with, a 20% decrease of 0.1% is barely anything. If my maths are correct that would reduce the risk to 0.08%. Still seems just as unlikley to me.

    These stats are useless and just headline grabbers without the full set of information. (not blaming Reg here though).

    1. Liam Johnson

      Try reading the article

      "47,911 US men were surveyed over the period 1986 to 2008 for the research. During this time some 5,035 of them developed prostate cancer with 642 dying of it."

      I make that about 10% chance of cancer and 1.3% chance of dying from it.

      Or with the coffee, 8% chance of cancer with 0.5% chance of dying.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      The risk of getting prostate cancer, if you live to old age is in the 90% region (possibly higher, although from memory) Interestingly the NHS find that if you just leave it alone it doesn't really cause problems, most old men die with prostate cancer of some sort without knowing about it. If it does cause problems they whip it out. This gives rise to one of the "USA/private medicine is better than the NHS" stats, it goes something like this:

      The NHS monitor prostate cancers, only operating on problem prostate cancers, therefore they have an "elevated" level of patient deaths becuase of complications. The system in the USA tend to operate as soon as a problem is noticed, mainly due to fear of being sued, this means that they have a high "survival" rate becuase most of the cancers were not a problem in the first place and were never going to be. They do have the problem of subjecting patients to procedures which aren't strictly speaking needed and do have side effects, which is rather dodgy...

      1. jm83

        Re: Risk

        Care to back this claim up?

        How is 'old age' defined?

        I smell something which would expelled from near a bull's prostate.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          re: re: Risk

          I can't back it up (offhand, with links - it's late and I'm going to bed!) other than to say that my partner's father is a pathologist and I know a couple of doctors all of whom say the same thing.

        2. Denarius Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Risk is consistent with other published work

          comment matches other "stories" read on dead tree and on-line.

          Most old men have an enlarged prostate.

          Whether it matters is another issue. Most men die of old age complications before treatment is needed.

          Usual caveats apply, weight, diet exercise.

      2. ian 22


        USA health care is based on the "bring out your dead" model.

        Insurers project your expected life span and multiply by their profit should you live to that age and subtract the amount your life-saving treatment would cost them.

        If the result is zero or negative, they deny the claim (AKA throw you under a bus). I believe the yanks call this a "death panel".

        1. Mike Flugennock

          'Ere, I'm not dead yet!


          "USA health care is based on the "bring out your dead" model."

          Best explanation of US health "care" I've ever heard. I raise a mug of coffee to you, sir (to replace the one I just spewed all over the table).

  13. Oliver Mayes


    So you're saying I'm indestructible?

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    people come second to goldfish in memory test

    couple of days ago: 'Speculators drive up cost of coffee'

    yesterday : 'coffee cures cancer'

    tomorrow: 'speculator looks round a few nice properties in mayfair with a view to buy.'

    1. Allan George Dyer Silver badge


      Was the speculator a goldfish?

  15. RockBurner

    important info we need to know....

    instant or ground?

    1. Mike Flugennock

      Instant or ground?

      I'm hoping like hell that they said ground is better. I only drink instant when I'm absolutely desperate.

  16. Nigel Brown

    But should it be decaf?

    Medical opinion used to hold that caffeine over-stimulated the prostate, I was told to switch to decaf to ease on the nocturnal yo-yoing twixt bed and bog.

  17. Tom 38 Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Prostate cancer

    It's such a mis-guided goal. Almost all men, if they live long enough, will get prostate cancer. Whether its an issue, or is even detected is another whole thing. The higher incidence of prostate cancer these days is down to increased testing, to catch the few cases where it is an issue.

  18. stubert
    Thumb Up

    Feet size 10? Prepare for a sudden lay off from work...

    And it has been proven that you are 35% more likely to get hit in a road accident if you get up on the right hand side of your bed.

    So for 22 years these 47,911 people (presumably clones to rule out genetic bias towards prostate cancer) did exactly the same thing, ate exactly the same foods, exercised the same but one group had tea to drink, one group coffee, one group decaf coffee, one group water? Or did we just get a show of hands "Who drinks coffee?... Who died of prostate cancer?"

  19. stubert

    Oh and please rate this article down

    Studies are for R&D companies to find avenues of investigation for controlled experiments and trials, this particular study sounds like scraping the bottom of the barrel really. They certainly should not be publicised with any significance in any news outlets.

  20. disgruntled yank Silver badge

    Fairly normal?

    "a fairly normal six-plus cups per day"? Perhaps in the world of journalism.

    1. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Fairly normal?

      Yes. There you are.

    2. Jimbo 6

      @ 'Perhaps in the world of journalism'

      You do know this website is aimed at IT support people, right ?

    3. Denarius Silver badge

      work in IT?

      Only six ? Thats my heart starting routine before morning tea.

    4. Mr Floppy

      Six cups of American coffee

      Which is about as strong a their beer.

      Mind you, the coffee situation has improved greatly since the late 80's over there, as long as you stay away from those awful chains.

  21. Anonymous Coward

    Forgot one thing as usual

    I keep reading those research pieces debating whether coffee is good for you. In one study you'll see it's fabulous, and in another, it's leading you straight to the tomb.

    What those guys forgot to do in their specimen selection is to check their ability to process caffeine. Not all humans can process caffeine. Those who can are reaping the benefits of coffee: lower cancer risk, better liver, bla bla bla.. Those who cannot get the short end of the stick: high blood pressure, tachycardia, etc.

    It would be nice for once to have a study that took that in consideration, and while I'm at it, a way to test whether one has the gene to process caffeine or not.


    1. John Gamble

      Re: Forgot one thing as usual

      You did notice that the study said it worked with decaf too, right?

  22. Andrew Jones 2

    We need to know.....

    What is the best brand of coffee for warding off cancer then?

    What was the average temperature of the hot water used?

    What brand of milk (if there was milk) complements the coffee best?

    How many sugars were people using?

    How can we hope to duplicate this wondrous test if we don't know all the stats!

    Come on people this is a matter of public health!

    Also as mentioned above.... how many had a ciggie with their cups of coffee?? (in fact what brands were most popular for that matter!)

    Won't somebody think of the children!

  23. Torben Mogensen

    Don't dismiss tea

    I can't see why this study should make anyone change their tea for coffee. A study comparing tea and coffee drinker's risk of prostate cancer is needed for that. The article didn't say what the control group drank instead of coffee.

    There is a distinct possibility that it may be the act of passing water frequently that helps prevent cancer, so anything that increases the frequency (or quantity) of this could well be beneficial. And we all know that both coffee and tea has this effect.

  24. David 66

    Shame you won't live long enough to enjoy not having cancer

    If you take the rule of thumb that all mammalian species have the same amount of heartbeats - such that mice and whales heartbeats average out to be the same count over their respective lifetimes - then coffee drinkers are burning the candle at both ends.

    1. MeRp

      re: Shame

      except for two niggling problems. The first is kind of obvious; you are speaking only of an average number of heartbeats in a lifetime - any individual, of course, could have more or less. The second tiny (itsy bitsy, really) issue is that your whole premise is total cobblers: mammals do not, in fact, have the same number of heartbeats per lifetime. Humans, for instance, average around 2.21 billion, whereas small dogs average around only 0.53 billion.


      If you then say "well, all humans have the same average number of heartbeats per lifetime," then I reply with: all humans also have the same average hat size, so wearing a hat that is too big obviously must shorten your lifespan. You should only wear hats that are too small.

  25. Craig Vaughton

    Just let us eat, drink and be merry.

    From experience I suspect there are more factors involved in the likelihood of getting prostrate cancer than a few cups of hot lava java. I'd also suggest they look at the impact of tea!

    Grandfather - Died age 96, basically of old age. Never smoked, hardly drank alcohol, drank tea by the gallon, but never drank coffee. Kept active until his knees let him down in his 80's

    Father - Died of aggressive form of prostrate cancer at 68. Didn't touch coffer or tea. Smoked, drank and sat on his arse for 40+ years.

    You can draw your own conclusions.

  26. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

    "Tea, especially green tea" also prevents prostate cancer (2009) says so.

    Good, I really don't like coffee and it's expensive.

  27. Mike Flugennock
    Thumb Up

    Hot damn diggety!

    Prostate cancer? The negative effects of boozing? And here all this time I was worried that drinking all this coffee would be bad for my heart someday; turns out it'll insure that I can still drink like a fish and fuck like a rabbit well into my old age.

    Boo yah! (another, please, sugar only)

  28. NemoWho
    IT Angle

    I've learned a powerful lesson here today...

    ... which is a simple observation that El Reg actually has a topic tag labelled "prostate".

    Understand that I'm not clicking on it right away - - but I'll sleep well tonight knowing it's out there.

    IT Angle? Well, that depends on how good of a multitasker one is, presumably... ^__^

  29. json

    May I propose an alternate sub header...

    .."Drink coffee for peters sake!"

  30. Lars Silver badge

    Now perhaps

    I got it, coffee drinkers smoke more, or not?. Apparently smoking prevents prostate cancer.


  31. Dr Patrick J R Harkin

    Speaking as a professional deadologist...

    ...everybody dies of something. Prostate cancer isn'r great, but I'd rather have it than pancreatic cancer which, IIRC, is associted with heavy coffee drinking. Perhaps that's why the study found less prostatic disease - they were all dead from something else before they got it!

  32. Mips
    Jobs Horns

    "for pity's sake"?

    Surely that should be "for pi**ing sake?

    Yes, and my coat is the one with "And don't call me Shirley" on the back

  33. Suburban Inmate


    So *that's* why my liver hasn't exploded. Yet.

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