Research by the Griffith Health Institute has revealed that three cups of coffee each day may help the body to resist disorders like cancer and cardiovascular disease.
“Coffee appears to have a protective effect in most people and provided a person’s coffee consumption stays at a reasonable level, it can boost the self defence system and fight carcinogens and toxins,” says Professor Lyn Griffiths, Director of the Griffith Health Institute.
Professor Griffiths (pictured) led a team from the Institute’s Genomics Research Centre which collaborated with the University of Vienna in Austria in a world first study to investigate the impact of coffee intake on human genes.
Sixty-two people took part in the trial, drinking a set amount of coffee for four-week periods and also enduring washout spells when no coffee was allowed.
Each participant drank three freshly-brewed 250ml cups of coffee per day from designated sachets, and provided blood samples during the trial for analysis of the coffee’s cancer-fighting properties.
The types of coffee used during the trial ranged from green to high roasted.
“They were only allowed to have the coffee we gave them because we knew exactly what was in that coffee,” Professor Griffiths said.
The study showed a significant increase in gene expression that correlated with coffee drinking, particularly in the case of one gene that regulates other genes and cells in the body.
“This gene switches on a lot of the antioxidant enzymes that protect cells against oxidative reduction chemicals and toxins that can lead to cancer and other diseases,” Professor Griffiths said.
“We believe this is a key gene that is being switched on by coffee.”
Researchers at the University of Vienna helped to pinpoint specific chemical components in fractions of the coffee that trigger this gene change.
“It’s been known for some time that nutrition and lifestyle can affect the development of a number of diseases like cardiovascular disease and cancer.
There have been some studies that have shown that coffee might be able to play a protective role, particularly in relation to cancer and there have been some studies directed specifically to colon cancer.
“What we were trying to do was find out how and why this can work.”
The research is now focusing on why some people responded better to the coffee than others.