(CBS) Scientists have identified another possible health benefit of coffee. A new study ties drinking lots of the stuff to a big drop in the risk for endometrial cancer.
The scientists looked at coffee consumption and incidence of endometrial cancer in more than 67,000 women enrolled in the long-running Nurses' Health Study. The scientists found that women who downed more than four cups of coffee a day over a 26-year period were 25 percent less likely to be diagnosed with the cancer. Women who drank two to three cups a day were 7 percent less likely to get it.
Drinking less than four cups a day was not associated with reduced risk. Nor was drinking tea. How about decaffeinated coffee? Drinking more than two cups a day was tied to a 22 percent reduced risk for endometrial cancer.
If the findings have you reaching for your coffee maker, you should know that the researchers stopped short of pushing coffee as a way to guard against cancer.
"It would be premature to make a recommendation that women drink coffee to lower their endometrial cancer risk," study author Dr. Edward Giovannucci, professor of nutrition and epidemiology at Harvard School of Public Health, told Reuters. He said in a written statement that coffee contains more antioxidants than most fruits and vegetables but pointed out that the study only links coffee and reduced risk of endometrial cancer and doesn't prove that coffee prevents the cancer.
What's more, the authors concluded that adding lots of sugar and cream to coffee might offset any potential benefits.
The study - published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention - isn't the first to suggest that coffee has health benefits. Coffee has been shown to be protective against diabetes, Giovannucci said in the statement. And according to another Harvard researcher, Dr. Rob van Dam, coffee has also been linked to reduced risk for depression in women as well as other benefits.
Endometrial cancer is a malignancy that forms in the endometrium, which is the lining of the uterus. In 2011, the disease will strike an estimated 46,470 women in the U.S. and will result in an estimated 8,120 deaths.
The National Cancer Institute has more on endometrial cancer.