Coffee is a complex mixture of naturally occurring compounds whose positive and negative influence on human health has been demonstrated time and again in several research works. The latest study lays emphasis on the valuable role of two molecules found in coffee that have been observed to slow the progression of prostate cancer.
Coffee compounds slowed the progression of cancer cells
Coffee is appraised because of its caffeine content and other compounds beneficial for the health. Apart from being a stimulant, it has been proven that consuming coffee can improve some cognitive functions like memory and learning capabilities. Coffee is also known to have a preventive effect on certain diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer diseases. Recent studies have underlined that certain compounds in coffee protect against cancer but for the first time, scientists from the School of Medical Sciences at Kanazawa University in Japan have indentified two compounds that can inhibit prostate cancer.
Their study, based on cancer cells resistant to anticancer drugs like Cabazitaxel and in mice, has just been presented at the congress of the European Association of Urology in Barcelona. The researchers focused on two specific compounds: kahweol acetate and cafestol. Both are hydrocarbons naturally present in Arabica coffee. The scientists initially tested six compounds naturally present in coffee in an in vitro environment to observe the proliferation of human prostate cancer cells. They noted that the cancerous cells treated with kahweol acetate and cafestol developed more slowly than control cells.
Brewed Arabica coffee is highly recommended
The second part of the experiment consisted of testing the two coffee compounds on prostate cancer cells that had been transplanted into sixteen mice. Four mice were not treated, four were treated with kahweol acetate, four were treated with cafestol and the remaining four received a combination of kahweol acetate and cafestol. According to Dr. Hiroaki Iwamoto, lead author of the study, kahweol acetate and cafestol both inhibited the growth of cancer cells in the mice. However, the team noted that when combined, both compounds seemed to work synergistically, leading to significantly slower tumour growth than in untreated mice.
After 11 days of monitoring, the tumours of the untreated mice increased on average by 342 percent, that is, three and a half times their original size, while the tumours in the mice treated with the two compounds increased by 167 percent, that is, one and a half times the original size. The researchers also discovered that the process of making coffee had significant impact on whether these compounds are still in the cup or not. They found that if a coffee is brewed as for an espresso, the two compounds remain present. On the other hand, if the coffee is filtered, the mentioned compounds are eliminated.
Dr. Hiroaki Iwamoto asserts that the results are promising but that the team needs to learn more about the mechanisms suggested by their findings before embarking on clinical trials. Once they confirm their findings, they can plan to proceed with candidates to treat drug-resistant prostate cancer.
It is all about quantity
Good for the heart, bad for the heart, stimulating … The opinions on the benefits or misdeeds of coffee on our health are diverse. Nonetheless, scientific research works keep on proving the positive effects of coffee on our health. It is now known to protect against liver cirrhosis, Parkinson’s diseases, Alzheimer disease. It has been acclaimed for boosting memory and concentration. And obviously, being a rich source of antioxidants, coffee is praised for various other health benefits. Everything is a question of dosage and the ideal amount of coffee each day would be three to four cups per day, as per latest studies.
Taken in the correct amount, caffeine associated with a fatty acid found in coffee beans would be able to slow the degeneration of the brain, which appears in Parkinson’s disease and in Lewy body dementia. Such are the results of another research conducted at Rutgers University in the United States. They were published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Previous studies have already shown that caffeine alone has beneficial effects on Parkinson’s disease. This time, the American researchers were interested in the fatty acid derived from the neurotransmitter serotonin called EHT (Eicosanoyl-5-hydroxytryptamide) found in the shell of the grain. The scientists have found that it helps protect the brain from abnormal protein accumulation in mice.
To test the effects of this molecule, the research team set up three groups of mice. The first group received only caffeine, the second received only the EHT while the third was given a combination of both. Administered alone, the components were not active, but once combined with each other, they presented beneficial effects on the brain of rodents by increasing the activity of a catalyst that acts against the accumulation of harmful proteins in the brain.
Coffee can help against various forms of dementia
Researchers at Indiana University in the US have discovered, on their side, that caffeine has an effect on an enzyme called NMAT2. According to their study, published in Scientific Reports, coffee consumption would be effective to prevent several forms of dementia.
NMAT2 has a dual role in the brain: it protects neurons from stress and helps fight the accumulation of tau protein. However, with age, this protein tends to accumulate in plaques, which causes neurofibrillary tangles. Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s diseases are the result of this complication.
At present, there exists nothing to combat this mechanism. On the other hand, the post-mortem analysis of patients showed a fall in the levels of the NMAT2 enzyme. Researchers have, therefore, screened over a thousand compounds – including some drugs on the market. In total, 24 have been identified for their beneficial effects on NMAT2. Caffeine is distinguished by its particularly strong role, by boosting the production of this enzyme. To confirm the effect of caffeine on NMAT2, the researchers administered the substance to genetically modified mice, programmed to produce little of this enzyme. Six hours after administration, the animals started to produce more NMAT2.
The results obtained were similar to those obtained with the drug Rolipram that has never been at the end of its development in the 1990s.