According to the findings from a study of more than 500,000 European adults, coffee and tea may help decrease the chances of adults developing the most common type of malignant brain tumor. Gliomas are a group of tumors that make up about 80 percent of malignant brain cancer cases in adults.
While this is potentially good news, it doesn’t mean that people should start drinking coffee for tumor prevention. For one, tumors are generally rare. The odds that you will develop a malignant brain tumor in your lifetime are less than one percent.
“This is all very preliminary,” said lead researcher Dominique Michaud, of Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, and Imperial College London. “This study shouldn’t be the reason that anyone changes their coffee or tea intake.”
The value lies more in potentially revealing more about the causes of brain tumors, something experts know little about.
At the beginning of the study, 521,488 men and women between 25 and 70 years old completed detailed questionnaires regarding their medical history, diet, exercise habits, smoking and other lifestyle factors.
Michaud’s team focused on more than 410,000 participants who were cancer-free to begin with and had their complete dietary information. Over an average of 8.5 years of follow-up, 343 of these men and women were diagnosed with glioma; another 245 were diagnosed with a different type of tumor, which is usually benign (meningioma).
Those participants who averaged at least 3.5 ounces of coffee or tea a day were three times less likely to be diagnosed with glioma than those who drank less or no coffee or tea.
One potential reason for this comes from a separate study, which found that caffeine appeared to slow the growth of a type of glioma called glioblastoma. Also, both coffee and tea contain antioxidants, which help protect body cells from damage that can lead to cancer and other diseases.