According to a study by Janet Hildebrand and colleagues from the American Cancer Society, drinking caffeinated coffee might significantly cut the risk of developing certain head and neck cancers although they stopped short of recommending that people should turn to caffeinated coffee as a means of reducing the risk.
Their work was published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.
One of the cancers discussed is oral/pharyngeal, or mouth and throat cancer, a cancer typically diagnosed as a late-stage disease because it remains asymptomatic for so long or what symptoms do appear are often mistaken for some other health issue.
Those at greatest risk for developing oral/pharyngeal cancer are people who use tobacco and consume alcohol.
The belief is that it is not the caffeine in coffee that is offering the moderate protection but rather many of the other existing compounds in coffee.
To reach these conclusions, researchers used data from the Cancer Prevention Study II, a prospective US cohort study that the American Cancer Society began back in 1982 which collected health and lifestyle information from almost one million men and women who were at the time of enrollment cancer free. A follow-up was performed 26 years later.
On analyzing the data they were able to determine that consuming more then four cups of caffeinated coffee each day was associated with a 49% reduced risk of death from oral/pharyngeal cancer, compared to those who either didn't drink caffeinated coffee or who didn't drink it in similar quantities.
"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."