The Mediterranean diet is often credited for Italians’ longevity and low levels of heart disease and cancer.
A major new study has uncovered another secret to their good health. Italian-style coffee cuts prostate cancer risk in half, researchers found.
Scientists from several institutions, including the Italian National Institute of Health, studied the coffee drinking habits of more than 7,000 Italian men. They followed the subjects for four years.
The study participants were from central Italy. Espresso coffee is by far the most prevalent kind of coffee in this region. American-style drip coffee is rare.
The researchers found that the men who drank more than three cups of espresso a day lowered their risk of prostate cancer by 53%.1
The scientists then confirmed their findings by testing the effects of espresso coffee extract on prostate cancer cells in the laboratory. They found it reduced the ability of tumors to grow and spread.2
Extracts from other kinds of coffee, such as decaf, had no effect on cancer cells.
Dr. Licia Iacoviello is head of the Laboratory of Molecular and Nutritional Epidemiology at the Istituto Neurologico Mediterraneo Neuromed in Pozzilli, Italy. She is one of the study authors.
Dr. Iacoviello says the way espresso is made is crucial to its cancer-fighting ability.
In central Italy “they prepare coffee rigorously the traditional Italian way: high pressure, very high water temperature, and with no filters,” she said. “This method, different from those followed in other areas of the world, could lead to a higher concentration of bioactive substances.”3
Espresso is typically made with dark roasted coffee. It is very strong and thick, and is served in small 2-3 ounce cups.
Except for skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common malignancy among men in the United States. It kills more than 26,000 American men a year.4
5 Ways Coffee Improves Your Health
Besides preventing prostate cancer, studies show regular coffee drinking protects your health in other ways:5
Preserves Hearing. Women who drink coffee every day lower their chances of developing tinnitus, according to a study at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
Tinnitus is buzzing or ringing in the ears. It’s a common sign of age-related hearing loss. Researchers believe the antioxidants in coffee are responsible for this protective effect.
Stops Diabetes. A decade-long Greek study revealed habitual coffee drinkers are 54% less likely to develop type 2 diabetes. Coffee reduces amyloid-A proteins in your blood that are linked to diabetes-causing inflammation.
Researchers found the benefit goes away when you add creamer or artificial sweeteners.
Keeps Your Mind Sharp. Coffee drinkers are 30% less likely to suffer cognitive decline by age 65, according to a study by the American Academy of Neurology.
Studies in mice show caffeine lowers amyloid beta levels. These proteins play a role in the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
Fights Breast and Skin Cancers. German and Swedish studies show that post-menopausal women who drink five cups of coffee a day cut their risk of hormone receptor-negative breast cancer by up to 57%. This type of breast cancer is particularly aggressive.
Yale researchers discovered people who drink four or more cups a day are 20% less likely to develop melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. Decaf drinkers did not see any benefit.
Protects Your Liver. A study out of Singapore followed 63,725 people for 15 years. It found people who drank two cups a day are 66% less likely to die from cirrhosis of the liver.
Coffee blocks enzymes that promote liver inflammation. Caffeine breaks down into paraxanthine. It slows the growth and spread of tissue found in liver cirrhosis and cancer.
One more thing… Coffee quality is key to its health benefits. Buy organic whenever you can. Darker roasts have a higher concentration of antioxidants. And of course, skip the artificial sweeteners and creamers.
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