A study by the American Cancer Society found that people who drink more than four cups of caffeinated coffee a day had a 49% lower risk of death from oral/pharyngeal cancer than people who drank coffee rarely or not at all. No significant link was found for decaffeinated coffee, and no link at all for tea.
The study, which began in 1982, followed 968,432 men and women for 26 years. All of the participants were cancer-free at enrollment. By the end of the study 868 died from oral/pharyngeal cancer. Previous studies have also linked coffee to a reduced risk of oral/pharyngeal cancer.
Coffee contains antioxidants, polyphenols, and other compounds that may help to protect against development or progression of cancer.
Lead author Janet Hildebrand, MPH, said, “We are not recommending people all drink 4 cups of coffee a day. This is just a little bit of good news for those of us who enjoy coffee. There may be some other effects of coffee that may prevent people with certain conditions from drinking a lot of caffeine. This study is about just one cancer site among many. There needs to be much more consistent research before we can support the conclusion that coffee should be consumed for cancer prevention.”
Oral Cancer Risk Factors
The strongest risk factors for oral/pharyngeal cancer are tobacco and alcohol use. Most people with oral/pharyngeal cancer use tobacco. Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection has also been linked to this cancer, especially in non-smokers. The number of oral/pharyngeal cancer cases linked to HPV has risen dramatically over the past few decades.
American Cancer Society