Coffee, Tea Linked to Lower Brain Cancer Risk

Researchers Say Antioxidants in Coffee and Tea May Explain Possible Reduction in Risk

Medically Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD on October 22, 2010
From the WebMD Archives

Oct. 22, 2010 -- Drinking about a half cup or more of coffee or tea per day is associated with a 34% reduction in the risk for glioma, a type of brain tumor, researchers report.

Researchers led by Dominique Michaud, DSc, an investigator at Brown University, and colleagues analyzed data from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition longitudinal study, which includes more than 410,000 people from nine countries who were followed for about 8.5 years.

Participants answered questionnaires about their coffee and tea intake, as well as other dietary habits. Information about cancer diagnoses was obtained from national cancer registries and medical insurance records.

Overall, researchers found that drinking 100 mL or more of coffee or tea a day was linked to a reduced risk of glioma brain tumors. Men who were coffee and tea drinkers had a greater reduction in risk than women.

The study was not designed to establish a cause-and-effect relationship between drinking coffee or tea and developing brain or spinal cord tumors; researchers only observed a connection. The researchers say more studies are needed to validate these observations.

Tracking Coffee and Tea Habits

During the study period, there were 343 cases of glioma (165 men and 178 women) and 245 cases of meningioma (54 men and 191 women) diagnosed. The meninges are the tissues surrounding and protecting the brain and spinal cord. There was no association of the amount of coffee and tea drunk daily and the development of meningioma.

Coffee consumption was highest in Denmark and lowest in Italy. Tea consumption was highest in the U.K. and lowest in Spain. People who drank greater amounts of coffee or tea were often older, more educated, smoked, and had a lower body mass index -- a measurement of height and weight.

The findings are published in the November issue of American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Coffee and tea are very high in antioxidants, which may explain the possible protective effect against some types of brain tumors, the researchers say. However, brewing methods vary greatly country to country, which could affect the concentration of antioxidants in a given cup.

Coffee and tea are two of the most popular beverages around the world. Drinking coffee and tea has also been associated with being protective against other types of cancers and brain disorders, including Alzheimer?s disease, Parkinson?s disease, and liver cancer. According to the National Cancer Institute, every year there are 22,020 new cases and 13,140 deaths from brain tumors and other nervous system tumors in the U.S.

Show Sources


News release, American Society of Nutrition.

Michaud, D. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, November 2010; vol 92: pp 1145-1150.

National Cancer Institute.

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