COFFEE boosts protection against cancer

A diet rich in coffee, fruit and vegetables could protect against breast cancer, a study suggests.

Scientists have found evidence of a protective effect from a diet full of phenolic acids on the risk of post-menopausal breast cancer. 

Chlorogenic acids, a certain type of phenolic acid which are found in coffee, fruits, and vegetables had the strongest effect. 

The study was led by a team of academics from the University of Navarra and the University of Jaen in Spain.

They looked at the link between phenolic acids, including hydroxycinnamic and hydroxybenzoic acids, and breast cancer in 11,028 women.

During an average follow-up of almost 12 years, the researchers found 101 cases of breast cancer among the group of women.

All the women had completed a food questionnaire at the start of the study saying how often they ate 136 different food items.

DO I NEED TO WASH FRUIT AND VEGETABLES?

It is important to wash fruit and vegetables in water before eating them to remove any residue pesticides that are used to control pests and can be detrimental to human health.

Produce is also at a high risk of contamination from dust, dirt and bacteria as most is stored in warehouses, before travelling in containers and being stored again at retailers.

Failure to wash fruit and vegetables can cause food poisoning, such as an E.coli infection. 

It is particularly important to wash off any soil as this is usually where bacteria resides.

NHS Choices advises people wash fruits and vegetables under running tap water.

The Food Standards Agency also recommends people wash produce before use but adds this will not completely eliminate potentially-harmful residues, only lessen those on the surface.

Peeling can be a more effective method, however, this removes fibre and important nutrients, such as vitamin C. 

Friends of the Earth claims the best way to avoid pesticides in produce is to eat organic fruit and vegetables.

Their intake of phenolic acids was calculated by matching food consumption data from the questionnaire with a database on the phenolic acid content of each food.

Researchers split women into three groups according to their intake of phenolic acids.

Those with the highest consumption of hydroxycinnamic acids had a 62 per cent reduced risk of breast cancer compared with those with the lowest intake. 

Women consuming the most chlorogenic acids had a 65 per cent reduced risk of breast cancer compared with those consuming the least.

The researchers concluded: ‘A higher intake of hydroxycinnamic acids, especially from chlorogenic acids – present in coffee, fruits and vegetables – was associated with decreased post-menopausal breast cancer risk.’

They said the diet could possibly reduce fat tissue inflammation, oxidative stress which can damage tissue, or resistance to insulin.

The findings were presented at the European Congress on Obesity in Glasgow.

Susannah Brown, acting head of research interpretation at the World Cancer Research Fund, said: ‘This is an interesting study that further confirms the importance of consuming a diet high in fruits and vegetables for cancer prevention.

‘It also suggests some of the potential underlying biological reasons as to why fruit and vegetables are protective against cancer.’