Author: Jenny L McCoy
Studies have already shown that coffee may benefit dental care by reducing the risk of developing cavities. Now there’s even more good news for java junkies. Researchers have discovered that drinking a lot of coffee actually lowers your risk of mouth and throat cancer.
According to the findings featured in WebMD, people who drink more than four servings of coffee daily have nearly a 40% lower chance of contracting mouth or throat cancer when compared to people who don’t drink coffee. For those who drank less than five cups of coffee daily, the level of protection fell to still significant 4% lower odds for contracting mouth and throat cancer for each cup of coffee consumed each day. Protection for oral and pharyngeal cancer was evident, but protection against cancer of the larynx was not.
Coffee’s protective effect was shown to remain intact even for drinkers and smokers, despite the fact that tobacco and alcohol consumption are linked to head and neck cancers. Additionally, the protection effect didn’t demonstrate a boost by consuming fruits and vegetables, which are also known to protect against head and neck cancers.
The researchers at the University of Milan reached these findings when they analyzed nine studies comparing 5,139 people with head and neck cancer to 9,028 people without cancer.
So, which ingredient in coffee is responsible for reducing the risk of oral cancer? The study dismissed caffeine as a likely possibility since drinking tea, even in mass quantities, was not protective.
The researchers pointed out that coffee contains hundreds of chemicals. Of those, cafestol and kahweol have anti-cancer properties. However, future studies will have to determine more decidedly if these chemicals actually protect against cancer in people.
Previous studies in Wired Magazine have credited Trigonelline, an alkaloid, in coffee as a cavity-fighting agent. While the ingredient is recognized for giving coffee its taste, it’s also proven to prevent craters from forming in teeth, averting the cavity-causing bacterium Streptococcus from attaching to teeth.
The American Dental Association reminds us that coffee alone cannot create optimal dental health. In fact, excess coffee can stain teeth. The ADA recommends traditional dental care that includes brushing twice daily, flossing each day, eating a balanced diet, and regularly visiting the dentist.