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http://www.energyfiend.com/caffeinated-coffee-the-anti-cancer-wonder-drug

The above URL claims:

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

I've seen this in various other places too, but have been rather sceptical.. are such studies really pointing to the fact that coffee could be anti-cancerous, or is there some skewing of statistics going on here?

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    According to the Daily Mail, it both causes and cures cancer, kill-or-cure.herokuapp.com/a-z/c#term133 – Jamiec Nov 9 '12 at 15:02
  • @Jamiec: Since the Daily Mail tries to report every newsworthy piece of scientific research which mentions cancer, that is probably the correct answer about the scientific view – Henry Nov 9 '12 at 15:37
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    No, the daily mail tries to categorize everything as either giving or curing cancer. I wouldnt use their reporting as proof of anything scientific whatsoever! In fact their reporters wouldnt understand scientific vigor if it came up and poked them in the eye (they might be worried the poking would give/cure cancer) – Jamiec Nov 9 '12 at 16:28
  • hellokinsella.posterous.com/… – berry120 Nov 9 '12 at 17:36
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    You have to be careful to be really really rigerous when looking at these sorts of studies. For examples, there are a lot of studies that have shown that users of low-carb diets have lower cancer rates. What those studies always seem to forget to mention is that low-carb diet users also have a much higher mortality rate. Since cancer rates go up dramatically as you get older, this seems to imply that low-carb diet users aren't getting cancer because they're dying from something else first! – BlueRaja - Danny Pflughoeft Nov 10 '12 at 0:20
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Per meta-analytic studies listed below, there is evidence that coffee drinking is associated with a reduced risk of certain types of cancers

  1. Per Allessio Crippa et.al. in 2014, coffee consumption was not associated with cancer mortality and coffee consumption is inversely associated with all cause and CVD mortality.

  2. Per Yu X et.al. in 2011, findings from a meta-analysis of cohort studies show that coffee consumption may reduce the total cancer incidence and it also has an inverse association with some type of cancers. This study looking at major types of cancers suggests that the protection depends on the amount that was consumed.

A significant amount of literature exists on relationships between coffee consumption and human cancer occurrence at 11 organ sites. It has been confirmed that coffee consumption is associated with a reduced risk of hepatocellular, kidney, and to a lesser extent, premenopausal breast and colorectal cancers, while it is unrelated to prostate, pancreas and ovary cancers. In subgroup analyses, we note that, for bladder, breast, buccal and pharyngeal, colorectal, endometrial, esophageal, hepatocellular, leukemic, pancreatic, and prostate cancers, there appears to be an inverse association.

  1. Per meta-analysis by Larsson SC et.al. in 2007 on coffee consumption and cancers of the liver showed an increased coffee consumption is associated with a reduced risk of liver cancer, both among individuals with and without a history of liver disease. However per the authors, the observed finding may not be generalizable to other populations.

  2. Per meta analysis by Ji Dong et.al. in 2011 coffee drinking was associated with a reduced risk of pancreatic cancer in men, while this association was not seen in women.

  3. Per metaanalysis by Tian-bao Huang et.al. in 2013, coffee consumption may reduce the risk of prostate cancer. No associations were found with both bladder and kidney cancer.

Per Shashi K. in 2013, drinking coffee has been linked with a reduced incidence of basal cell carcinoma, prostate cancer, colon, breast and rectal cancers. However per Weixiang Wu et.al. in 2015, there was an increased risk between coffee consumption and bladder cancer. More health effects of coffee drinking are discussed on basis of science here and its followup here.

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    Note these studies are about correlation, not causation. Coffee-drinking is cultural and may be associated with confounding factors (E.g. cigarettes, lack of sleep, etc.) – Oddthinking Aug 8 '15 at 13:49
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It may have some anticancerous effect. A group of scientists at Harvard School of Public Health published their research stating that:

Fewer than 4 cups of coffee per day were not associated with endometrial cancer risk. However, women who consumed 4 or more cups of coffee had 25% lower risk of endometrial cancer than those who consumed less than 1 cup per day (multivariable RR = 0.75; 95% CI = 0.57–0.97; Ptrend = 0.02). We found the similar association with caffeinated coffee consumption (RR for ≥4 vs. <1 cup/d = 0.70; 95% CI = 0.51–0.95). For decaffeinated coffee consumption, a suggestive inverse association was found among women who consumed 2 or more cups per day versus <1 cup/mo. Tea consumption was not associated with endometrial cancer risk.

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    There's two parts to be careful about here. The first is the difference between a "suggestive inverse association" and causality. The second is the sheer volume of studies on the effects of coffee on health means we must be careful we aren't cherry-picking. Coffee has been associated with both increases and decreases in different cancers in different studies. Ref – Oddthinking Dec 1 '12 at 14:40
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    Studies like this also suffer from serious recall bias (the coffee consumption is usually estimated by retrospectively surveying the participants not by controlling their diets). This introduces both noise and potential bias. It is also easy to select the handful of positive associations from a large pool of non-significant ones (like selecting a run of ten heads from a 1000 coin tosses and pretending it means something). – matt_black Dec 2 '12 at 1:14

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