Science: Drinking Coffee Could Help Protect Your DNA From Damage, Therefore Reducing Cancer Risk

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Drinking Coffee Could Help Protect Your DNA From DamageImage – © Sandra Cunningham –

An amazing new scientific study has indicated that dark roast coffee decreases the level of spontaneous DNA strand breaks. Because of this surprising ability of coffee to strengthen DNA, including coffee in the diet implies a potential to reduce cancer risk. This is further great news for coffee drinkers and is the latest in a string of studies demonstrating a myriad of potential health benefits for coffee.

Beyond Caffeine
Despite caffeine being one of the major active components of coffee, it is also rich in other bioactive compounds like vitamin B3, magnesium, potassium, and a variety of phenols – all needed by the body to function normally. [1] Further studies have revealed coffee’s protective effect when it comes to diabetes. [2] The risk for type 2 diabetes was significantly reduced by 7 percent with each cup of coffee. [3] Another study in 2011 revealed that coffee was able to improve the body’s immune response to an allergic reaction by suppressing interleukin-12 (IL-12) and promoting anti-allergic activities. [4]

Coffee and DNA
When DNA is repeatedly exposed to factors like oxidative stress (wherein free radicals circulate in the body, damaging tissue and potentially DNA), it becomes damaged and ceases to function normally. Damaged DNA increases the risk of cancer, characterized by the rapid growth and multiplication of abnormal cells. In a healthy cell, DNA that is damaged is repaired or the cell dies. In a cancerous cell, the damaged DNA is not repaired, instead the cell replicates with the damaged DNA over and over again. [5]

According to the study by Bakuradze, et. al. (2014), coffee was able to improve the health of DNA strands (in white blood cells) in the human body. Reportedly, coffee decreases oxidative damage in white blood cells, part of the immune system responsible for fighting infection. In the study, 84 male respondents were instruction to consume dark roast coffee every day for four weeks. The blend of coffee used in the study contained high levels of caffeoylquinic acid and N-methylpyridinium. Another group was instruction to drink the same amount of water daily. [6]

After four weeks, the control group (water intake) exhibited an increase in DNA strand breakage. On the other hand, DNA breakage in the intervention group (coffee intake) was significantly decreased – by 27 percent to be exact! There were no diet differences between the two groups, nor were there any changes in weight – which meant that the improvement in DNA health could be attributed to the intake of coffee. [6]

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Further studies will of course be required in order to verify the findings and further understand their mechanism of action. In the meantime, it seems that a cup of coffee is a most excellent way to start the day. Because of its caffeine content, it is quite adept at boosting energy levels – perfect for people looking for a pick-me-up during breakfast. But note that caffeine is also known to increase blood pressure levels – something that should be avoided if you are at risk for or have been diagnosed with hypertension.

While the general consensus is that more research is needed to overturn the commonly-held misconception that “coffee is unhealthy”, it cannot be denied that coffee can have positive effects on human health. As for the various kinds of sweeteners and milks that you might add to your beverage… well, that’s a different story altogether…


[1] Cano-Marquina, A., Tarin, J. & Cano, A. (2014) The impact of coffee on health.

[2] van Dam, R.M. & Hu, F.B. (2005). Coffee consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes: a systematic review.

[3] Huxley, R., et al. (2009). Coffee, decaffeinated coffee, and tea consumption in relation to incident type 2 diabetes mellitus: a systematic review with meta-analysis.

[4] Goto, M., Takano-Ishikawa, Y. & Shinmoto, H. (2011). An in vitro effect of coffee on the antigen-specific immune responses of naïve splenocytes.

[5] American Cancer Society (2014). What is Cancer?

[6] Bakuradze, T., et. al. (2014). Consumption of a dark roast coffee decreases the level of spontaneous DNA strand breaks: a randomized controlled trial.

1 Comment

  • By celia, April 11, 2015 @ 5:56 pm

    I really enjoy coffee so this article made my day!! I really enjoy a shot of espresso in the morning to start my day.

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