Coffee is a healthful habit that helps prevent some kinds of cancer. And Italian-style coffee in particular may prevent cancer of the prostate gland.

As a rule, coffee gets a bad rap in medical circles. Most writers focus on its ability to disrupt sleep. It may also interfere with opioid painkillers and a few other medications. The 2019 DeVita cancer textbook raises concerns about caffeine’s effects on stomach acid, ulcers, heart rate, and the like. So, by all means, if you are fighting cancer, discuss any change in your coffee habits with your doctor.

Some Benefits of Coffee

In fact, there are health benefits associated with coffee drinking:

  • High coffee intake reduces the risk of liver cancer by 50%. In fact, each additional cup reduces the risk by 15%. It may also decrease the risk of cirrhosis of the liver and/or elevated liver enzymes.
  • For some cancers, both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee are equally effective. Coffee prevents cancer of the endometrium.
  • Regular or decaffeinated coffee use is associated with a lower rectal cancer incidence.
  • Localized (but not advanced) prostate cancer is also reduced by regular coffee consumption.
  • The risk of melanoma is also reduced by 20% through regular coffee consumption.

Even the 2019 edition of the DeVita cancer textbook (p. 138) admits this. It further suggests that coffee exerts its beneficial effects by reducing the availability of blood glucose to cancer cells:

“Mechanisms for the beneficial effect of coffee consumption on cancer incidence may include lower glycemic load and reduced diabetes risk.”

Thus, coffee may be the perfect companion to a low-carb or ketogenic diet. If you want decaffeinated coffee, make sure to use only Swiss or CO2 processed organic coffee, and never chemically decaffeinated products.

Natural Compounds

Everyone know that coffee contains caffeine. But there are other natural chemicals of importance in a cup of java. These include kahweol and cafestol. These ingredients of coffee prevent cancer in various lab studies, including those with mesothelioma cells. Very importantly, caffeine and its opposite number in tea, theobromine, enhance the effects of chemotherapy against some cancer cells.

The Cappuccino Connection

But the most intriguing relationship is with prostate cancer. Until recently, it has been difficult to reach a firm conclusions on the relationship. The data has been contradictory. As Japanese scientists wrote in 2018:

“Coffee inhibits the progression of prostate cancer; however, the direct mechanism through which coffee acts on prostate cancer cells remains unclear.”

Coffee, Italian-Style

Italy is not among the top ten coffee consuming countries. The average Italian consumes half as much as the world leader, which is Finland. That’s probably because of the Italian penchant for espresso, which comes in one or two ounce shots. But coffee is an entrenched part of the unique Italian life style.

Italian-style coffee includes “caffè espresso” and “moka” and their combinations with milk such as “caffè latte,” “cappuccino” and “macchiato.” These are produced either with hot water under high pressure (as in espresso) or with boiling water (as in moka).

In 2017, scientists studied men who drank Italian-style coffee. For those who drank one or two cups per day there was only a slight decrease in prostate cancer incidence overall.

Significant Reduction

But when they studied men who consumed three or more cups per day, they found that coffee prevents cancer of the prostate. There was a highly significant 64% reduction in risk. And even when they adjusted for such other risk factors as smoking, age and body-mass index, there was still a 53% decrease. This was highly significant in a statistical sense. It truly seems that coffee prevents cancer of the prostate gland in a great many people.

So why might “Italian-style coffee” be different than coffee in the U.S. or other countries? For one thing, it is much stronger. Espresso shots are 5 to 8 times as concentrated as American drip coffee. Even coffee made in a moka pot is 2 to 3 times as strong as drip coffee.


Nowadays, many Americans make their coffee with filters. But Italian-style coffee is unfiltered. As a result, it contains more of the beneficial natural compounds that are removed from filtered brews. Scientists warn that:

“The part of the ground coffee that does not overcome the filtration process includes significant amounts of different dietary compounds.”

Unfiltered Coffee and Heart Attacks?

About 20 years ago, there was a flurry of scare stories claiming that unfiltered coffee could lead to a heart attack. A small clinical trial from Holland showed that a liter per day of unfiltered coffee raised the homocysteine levels by 10%. True, abnormally high homocysteine levels are widely seen as a risk factor for heart disease. But what the story did not tell you is that coffee did not raise the average levels above normal.

And if this unfiltered-coffee-causes-heart-attack theory were true, one would expect Italy to be in the midst of a runaway heart attack epidemic. But, as World Health Organization data shows, the exact opposite is the case. Among the nation’s of the earth, Italy’s heart death rate is near the bottom of the chart, at #163. One would also need to explain why the country of Belarus, where people consume one-tenth as much coffee, has a heart attack death rate five times higher than Bella Italia!


For millions of people around the world, coffee drinking is a pleasurable part of the “daily grind.” Yes, there are some health concerns, especially concerning insomnia or nervous jitters. So if you are thinking of changing your coffee habits, discuss this with your doctor. However, for most people, coffee will do no harm and may do a whole lot of good. This is particularly so if you are dealing with prostate cancer. There, the reports out of Italy are very encouraging. Indulging in three cups of espresso or cappuccino per day is no punishment. And it might be just the thing for keeping prostate cancer at bay.

For those who are wondering what #nofilter means, it’s a popular internet way of saying that something is natural, unmodified, or otherwise unfiltered, especially images that are not altered in image editing software.

You may also want to read these other blog posts.

Does Milk Cause or Promote Prostate Cancer?

Does Dairy Cause or Promote Breast Cancer?

The Budwig Diet and Cancer— Separating Flax from Fiction.