Coffee, Tea May Cut Risk for Brain Cancer
When you pour your morning cup of joe, you may be doing more than jump-starting your day. You may be protecting yourself against brain cancer.
New research shows that drinking as little as a half-cup of coffee or tea per day may lower your risk for a specific type of brain cancer called glioma.
Coffee and tea consumption has already been linked to a lower risk for Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases. The current study expanded the research to look at gliomas, a cancer of the central nervous system that starts in the brain or spinal cord.
Gliomas are the most common primary brain tumors. Experts don’t know what causes them.
Measuring coffee, tea intake
The study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, was conducted by an international team of researchers. It stemmed from an ongoing, major European study of the dietary habits of more than 410,000 men and women between the ages of 25 and 70.
This large study is focused on possible links between diet, nutritional status, lifestyle, and environmental factors and cancer, as well as other diseases.
Participants were recruited between 1991 and 2000, and were tracked over the course of about nine years. During that time, food surveys were completed to measure the amount of tea and coffee each person drank.
Wide range of consumption
Regular coffee and tea drinking patterns varied from country to country.
For example, while the Danish (the biggest consumers of coffee) drank on average nearly four cups a day, Italians (the lowest consumers) averaged less than a half-cup daily. Tea intake was highest in Great Britain, and lowest in Spain.
During the study, 343 new cases of glioma were diagnosed.
The research team found that drinking about one-half cup per day or more lowered the risk of gliomas by 34 percent.
The benefit appears to be slightly stronger among men and applies only to gliomas.
Careful science needed to unravel link
Jonathan Friedman, M.D., at Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine, was surprised by the findings.
He says the mechanism by which coffee protects is not known.
"While the caffeine itself might be important,” Dr. Friedman says, “some of the other common components of coffee or tea might also be relevant, such as natural antioxidants.”
He wants added studies to confirm these findings and to identify the basis for the link.
John S. Yu, M.D., at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, says the finding was "striking."
He says that if doctors had a medication for any disease that could show a risk reduction of 34 percent that would be a great benefit.
"And as for the specific protective impact of caffeine, this finding follows other recent research that demonstrated that coffee drinking is associated with a lower risk for breast cancer as well," says Dr. Yu.
Always talk with your health care provider to find out more information.
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More About Brain Tumors
A brain tumor is an abnormal growth of tissue in the brain.
The tumor can either start in the brain itself – called a primary brain tumor. Or it can come from another part of the body and travel to the brain – called a metastatic tumor.
Brain tumors are either benign (noncancerous) or malignant (cancerous).
A benign tumor does not contain cancer cells and once removed, usually doesn’t recur. Benign tumors can cause symptoms similar to cancerous tumors because of their size and location in the brain.
Malignant brain tumors contain cancer cells. They are usually fast growing and invade tissue around them.
Metastatic brain tumors are tumors that begin to grow in another part of the body, then spread to the brain through the lymph system and bloodstream.
Common types of cancer that can travel to the brain include lung cancer, breast cancer, nasopharyngeal cancer, melanoma, and colon cancer.
These cancers are described and treated based on the specific type of cancer. For example, breast cancer that has spread to the brain is still called breast cancer.
Always consult your physician for more information.