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Coffee May Lower Risk of Death From Mouth Cancer: Study
Date:12/11/2012

finding only reached marginal statistical significance. No link was found between oral cancer and tea, they added.

The study authors noted that more research is needed to understand the reasons why coffee has a protective effect against oral cancers.

Two cancer experts said the study, while heartening for coffee drinkers, did have some drawbacks.

"Additional studies are necessary to confirm this effect and that it applies overall to the general population," said Dr. Robert Kelsch, of the division of oral pathology at North Shore-LIJ Health System in New Hyde Park, N.Y. He added that many of these oral and throat cancers have been tied to infection with the human papillomavirus (HPV), and the study "does not address any effect on HPV-related oral cancers."

In addition, Kelsch said, "keep in mind, this study only addresses possible reduced death from oral cancers. It does not suggest that caffeinated coffee will prevent whether you get oral cancer in the first place."

Dr. Marshall Posner is director of head and neck medical oncology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City. He said that "this is a provocative study and good news if you drink a lot of coffee."

However, Posner agreed that the role of HPV-linked cancer needs to be addressed. "Patients with HPV-related oropharynx cancer are cured in more than 75 percent of the cases, hence they did not show up in this study since their mortality from cancer is low," he explained.

"The study [also] does not address the risk of cancer development and coffee, which is a direct biologic question," Posner said, "and there are many behavioral factors among coffee drinkers and non-drinkers that might lead to lesser survival from oral/oropharynx cancer among subjects who did not drink coffee regularly."

Still, he added, "I will continue to drink coffee as opposed to tea, reassured by this work."

The study was published online Dec. 9 in the American Jou
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