Coffee Consumption Lowers Risk of Oral, Pharyngeal and Esophageal Cancers

Articles
November 14, 2008

Coffee Consumption Lowers Risk of Oral, Pharyngeal and Esophageal Cancers

A Japanese cohort study, following participants for more than 13 years, has concluded that coffee consumption can lower the risk of oral, pharynegeal and esophageal cancers, even in those people who are at high risk. The risk can be ameliorated by as little as one or two cups of coffee per day, even among those who smoke and/or drink. The reason appears to be that coffee has a “protective effect” on these cancers, and more importantly, the effect “remained strong” even when cancers caused by cigarettes or heavy drinking occurred among the study participants, the scientists wrote...

A Japanese cohort study, following participants for more than 13 years, has concluded that coffee consumption can lower the risk of oral, pharynegeal and esophageal cancers, even in those people who are at high risk. The risk can be ameliorated by as little as one or two cups of coffee per day, even among those who smoke and/or drink. The reason appears to be that coffee has a “protective effect” on these cancers, and more importantly, the effect “remained strong” even when cancers caused by cigarettes or heavy drinking occurred among the study participants, the scientists wrote.

The Miyagi Cohort Study published its results online last month in the American Journal of Epidemiology. Scientists studied 38,679 people in Japan between the ages of 40 and 64. During the study period, 13.6 years, there were 157 cases of one of the three cancers among the participants and those who drank one or more cups of coffee actually cut their risk in half. The inverse association with coffee consumption was consistent regardless of the sex of the participant.

The Cox proportional hazards regression model was used to estimate the hazard ratios and the risk of all three cancers  was shown to be inversely associated with coffee consumption in which the multivariate-adjusted hazard ratio was  >1 cup of coffee per day compared to no consumption (0.51 or 95% confidence interval: 0.33,0.77).

Although not an alarming cancer risk, esophageal cancers are on the rise here in the U.S. The American Cancer Society estimates about 16,000 new esophageal cancer cases are detected each year. A study conducted in the U.S.  and reported in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute,  also substantiated that consumption of coffee did not increase the risk of oral and pharyngeal cancers.

The esophagus is is the tube that carries food, liquids and saliva from your mouth to the stomach. Trouble swallowing and untreated acid reflex or GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) should be reported to your physician promptly for early detection and successful treatment.

Both the incidence and the mortality rates of esophageal cancers for African-Americans and Asians are higher than Caucasians. Barrett’s esophagus or adenocarcinoma of the esophagus affects only 1% of the population but it is also on the rise, particularly in Caucasian men over 60 and in non-Hispanic white men. Barrett’s esophagus occurs the tissue lining the esophagus is replaced by tissue similar to the lining of the intestine (intestinal metaplasia). Esophageal cancer is more common in China, India, Japan, the United Kingdom, and in  the region around the Caspian Sea.

Oral cancer appears on the lips or inside the mouth. It can form on the front two thirds of the tongue, the gums, the lining of the inside cheeks, and the bony top of the mouth. Sometimes it forms behind the wisdom teeth. The best defense against oral cancers is regular dental examinations. Unusual white or red patches should also be reported to your dentist or physician immediately.

The pharynx is the hollow tube inside the neck that starts behind the nose and ends at the top of the windpipe and esophagus.  Cancer of the pharynx, (aka throat cancer), can appear in the larynx (voice box), the nasopharynx, the upper part of the throat behind the nose, the oropharynx, the middle part of the pharynx, and the hypopharynx, the bottom part of the pharynx. Changes in the voice (gravely or foggy sounding) unrelated to cold or flu and constant irritation of throat or nose should be reported to your physician for early detection and, as necessary, treatment.

SOURCE: American Journal of Epidemiology, published online October 29, 2008. The Miyagi Cohort Study, authored by Toru Naganuma, Shinichi Kuriyama, Masako Kakizaki, Toshimasa Sone, Naoki Nakaya, Kaori Ohmori-Matsuda, Yoshikazu Nishino, Akira Fukao and Ichiro Tsuji. Division of Epidemiology, Department of Public Health and Forensic Medicine, Tohoku University School of Medicine, 2-1 Seiryo-machi Aoba-ku Sendai, 980-8575, Japan