Coffee linked to breast and colon cancer

By Mike Stones

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Cancer

More research is necessary to explore links between a compound in coffee and breast and colon cancer, according to Texas AgriLife Research scientists.

Kathleen Philips, a spokesperson for Texas AgriLife Research, told “If the compound could be extracted and directed towards the colon tumor, it could be a new way to target this form of cancer​.”

Additional studies are necessary to determine recommended consumption amounts, she added.

Act like a hormone

Dr Clinton Allred, AgriLife Research nutrition scientist, said that trigonelline has the ability to act like a hormone. "So there is a tie to cancer in the sense that we are looking at estrogen-dependent ​(breast) cancer cells. But that doesn't suggest that it would actually cause the disease. I don't believe there should be any concern about drinking coffee at this point," ​said Allred.

Allred’s report, published in the Journal of Nutrition, focuses on dietary compounds that can mimic the hormone estradiol – a primary hormone in women. His studies have examined how estrogen protects against the development of colon cancer.

Estradiol is one of three estrogen hormones, explained Allred. "There's a history of these compounds in crops such as soy. Soy has a number of different compounds that can mimic estradiol in several disease states some of which are good and some of which have the potential to be more deleterious-type effects."


Estrogen-dependent tumors in the presence of estradiol will grow faster, he said. "We haven't gotten as far as to suggest that if a woman had the disease that it would necessarily be a problem. But what we've proven is that the compound is estrogenic or can be at certain concentrations and doses,"​ said Allred.

Trigonelline occurs in coffee beans at varying concentrations depending on the type of bean. "The more you roast a coffee bean, the less there is," Allred said. "But the most critical aspect is that when you do a water extract of ground coffee, which is basically how you make a cup of coffee. It does in fact come out in the water, so we know it is in a cup of coffee​."

Related topics: Research, Cancer risk reduction

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