While we should start our day with a glass of water, the majority of Americans depend on a different beverage to give them a morning kickstart: coffee. According to the 2020 National Coffee Data Trends report from the National Coffee Association, 62 percent of Americans drink coffee every day. And it turns out, the benefits of the drink come down to more than just a jolt of energy—a new paper published this week in the British Medical Journal suggests that a few cups of coffee each day could lower your risk of developing prostate cancer.
The new meta-analysis was published in BMJ Open by researchers in the Department of Urology at Shengjing Hospital of China Medical University. They suggest that coffee’s benefit lies in it containing chemicals with anti-carcinogenic properties, including the ability to suppress an enzyme responsible for tumor formation. The team looked at 16 different studies that examined coffee consumption, noting that those people who drank more joe had a 7 percent lower risk of localized prostate cancer, and around 15 percent lower risk of advanced cancer.
While the study authors stressed that more research was needed into the links between coffee and this health benefit, they suggested that of the more than 1,000 chemicals in roasted coffee, two in particular—cafestol and kahweol—are believed to have anti-carcinogenic properties. Chlorogenic acid, which has an antioxidant effect on the body, is also present in the drink.
As to how much coffee this means you should be drinking, bear in mind that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends a maximum caffeine intake of 400 mg per day–or around 4 to 5 cups of coffee, so at least some restraint is advisable. Keep reading for more foods with similar cancer-fighting properties.
You don’t need us to tell you that fresh vegetables are good for you, but the American Cancer Society (ACS) specifically recommends “dark green, red and orange, fiber-rich legumes (beans and peas), and others.” Among dark green vegetables, broccoli is believed to be particularly beneficial thanks to the presence of sulforaphane, a dietary component that inhibits the growth of breast cancer stem cells, according to study out of the College of Pharmacy at the University of Michigan.
Avoiding overly processed, sweetened, or otherwise adulterated fruit is also key, as is choosing “whole fruits in a variety of colors,” the ACS advises. Research has shown that citrus fruits in particular have been linked to a lower risk of developing cancers of the digestive and upper respiratory tracts and of stomach cancer.
A 2017 report from the American Institute for Cancer Research and the World Cancer Research Fund recommends that people should be consuming 90 grams of whole grains a day, which is equivalent to one bowl of oatmeal, one sandwich with whole grain bread, or one meal made with brown rice. The thinking is that by making your bowel movements more regular, and diluting them, a whole grain diet moves harmful chemicals through your system faster before they can cause damage. By maintaining a steady diet of whole grains, Cancer Research U.K. suggests you could cut your risk of bowel cancer by 17 percent.
Garlic contains allicin, a compound that has been shown to kill cancer cells in test-tube research. Multiple studies have suggested that eating more garlic—around a clove a day—could lead to decreased risks of stomach, prostate, and colorectal cancers.