Welcome to my first post to the Inside Cancer Blog… I hope you enjoy.

I’m a bit of a coffee drinker, so I often wonder if this is good or bad. Growing up, it was always presented as a vice. Yet, I have been drinking coffee all my life- and coffee has thousands of chemicals in it. Should I try to quit, or am I all right? Given all the chemicals, I have worried that I might be exposing myself to a cancer causing chemical- a carcinogen. Recently, a few reports have looked into this. On the whole, coffee comes out all right.

The best evidence for a good effect is on liver cancer: a Japanese group showed that drinking coffee decreases your risk of getting liver cancer around 43%! The American Cancer Society estimates that there will be around 22, 620 new cases of liver cancer this year. A quick bit of math makes me think that we should be able to prevent thousands of these cancers by getting everyone to drink coffee!

Here is my admittedly sloppy calculation:

The National Coffee Association reports that 54% of American adults drink coffee daily. If the risk of getting cancer is about 43% lower and 54% of American drink coffee day, it seems to mean that the coffee drinkers only make up a small proportion of the liver cancer patients.

The proportion, I think, is .54 times .57, or .3078. That means that only around 7000 of the new liver cancer cases are coffee drinkers if my calculations are right (.3078 times 22620 is 6962). That leaves over 15000 non-coffee drinkers. What if they had been coffee drinkers?

If we look at the 22,620 cases, how many should come from coffee drinkers? .57 times 15657 is 8925…. If my sloppy math is right, that means that there could have been 6700 fewer cases of liver cancer this year if everyone drank coffee every day. Of course, many find drinking dirty brown water unpleasant, but it makes you think…

There is also evidence that coffee reduces the risk of kidney cancers, some breast cancers, and ovarian cancer.

It is nice to know my morning indulgence is unlikely to be making me sick, and that  coffee is probably  good for you in many ways. Check out this article at the National Institutes of Health to find out more:

The news is not all good: it seems that drinking hot beverages including coffee can increase the risk of esophageal cancer. Maybe I should start drinking my coffee cold…

For information on some things that might not be good for you, check out Inside Cancer’s section on Causes and Prevention of cancer.