Drinking coffee could help protect against breast cancer, new study suggests

Researchers from two Spanish universities have found evidence that eating more phenolic acids in your diet can help protect against post-menopausal breast cancer.

Scientists have found evidence of a protective effect from a diet full of phenolic acids on the risk of post-menopausal breast cancer. Phenolic acids are plant compounds found in a variety of plant-based foods, usually in the leaves of vegetables and the skins and seeds of fruit. The study found that the phenolic acid with the strongest effect was chlorogenic acid, which is mostly found in coffee, especially green coffee beans, and some other fruit and vegetables. It shares some health benefits with caffeine, but is less potent.

The study looked at the link between phenolic acids and the incidence of breast cancer in over 11,000 women. All the participants were asked to fill in a questionnaire to confirm how often they ate 136 particular types of food. Researchers followed them over a period of around 12 years, and found that just over 100 women were diagnosed with breast cancer. Scientists worked out how much phenolic acid each woman had in their diet by matching up the incidence of consumption of each food type with a database containing the amount of phenolic acid each food contained.
Depending on the results of the food matching, researchers put the participants into groups.

Researchers split women into three groups according to their intake of specific phenolic acids. Those who consumed the most hydroxycinnamic acid in their diets had a 62 per cent reduction in their risk of getting breast cancer, compared to those who consumed the least.

Those who included the most chlorogenic acids in their diet saw their risk reduce to 65 per cent less than the group who consumed the least.
The study concluded that eating more phenolic acids, particularly chlorogenic acids found in coffee, fruit and vegetables, was associated with a decreased risk of post-menopausal breast cancer. Researchers concluded that the high levels of phenolic acids may possibly work to reduce fat tissue inflammation or resistance to insulin, both of which could make women more susceptible to breast cancer.

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