Researchers from Japan have noted that certain compounds in coffee could slow and even stop the progress of prostate cancer.
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The team of researchers were looking at the effect of Kahweol acetate and cafestol – two compounds found in coffee, on the growth of tumours in mice. They were conducting a pilot study with the compounds. The results of their study were published in the latest issue of the journal The Prostate and were presented at the 34th European Association of Urology Congress in Barcelona.
Experts and researchers have agreed that it may yet be too early to say that the compounds could actually be used in the treatment of human prostate cancers. They added that these two compounds are found in espresso but are removed from filtered coffee.
According to lead author Dr Hiroaki Iwamoto of Kanazawa University Graduate School of Medical Science, “We found that kahweol acetate and cafestol inhibited the growth of the cancer cells in mice, but the combination seemed to work synergistically, leading to a significantly slower tumour growth than in untreated mice.” They had started with six compounds present in coffee. They tested the compounds on human prostate cancer cells in petri dishes as well as on 16 lab mice of which four were used as controls.
He explained, “After 11 days, the untreated tumours had grown by around three and a half times the original volume (342 per cent), whereas the tumours in the mice treated with both compounds had grown by around just over one and a half (167 per cent) times the original size.” Thus the cells that were treated with kahweol acetate and cafestol showed a slower growth compared to controls.
Dr Iwamoto added as a warning, “This is a pilot study, so this work shows that the use of these compounds is scientifically feasible, but needs further investigation; it does not mean that the findings can yet be applied to humans.” “It is important to keep these findings in perspective,” he said adding, “We also found the growth reduction in transplanted tumour cells, rather than in native tumour cells. It has not yet been tested in humans… What it does show is that these compounds appear to have an effect on drug resistant cells prostate cancer cells in the right circumstances, and that they too need further investigation. We are currently considering how we might test these findings in a larger sample, and then in humans.”
Professor Atsushi Mizokami, also from Kanazawa University Graduate School of Medical Science, in a statement said, “These are promising findings, but they should not make people change their coffee consumption. Coffee can have both positive and negative effects so we need to find out more about the mechanisms behind these findings before we can think about clinical applications.” “However, if we can confirm these results, we may have candidates to treat drug-resistant prostate cancer,” he added on a hopeful note.