According to research those who enjoy a regular coffee fix are over a third less likely to develop cancer of the mouth or throat than those who do not drink coffee.

Researchers from the University of Utah in Salt Lake City have found evidence to suggest that some of the ingredients in coffee can decrease the risks of mouth cancer.

Coffee contains more than 1,000 chemicals, including antioxidants. The study found that caffeine was unlikely to be the magic ingredient, as drinking large quantities of tea was found to offer no protection against mouth cancer. Chemicals, cafestol and kahweol, were considered most likely to be the beneficial elements, as they have anti–cancer properties.

Chief Executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter said: “Many people enjoy coffee, but often worry about the risks it has for their health – possibly high blood pressure. But this study shows that drinking coffee can actually have beneficial effects.”

Those who drank less than five cups a day are also less likely to be diagnosed with the illness, with their risk of mouth cancer decreasing slightly with each cup they drink.

Mouth cancer is one of the fastest growing cancers in the UK, with around 5,000 people being diagnosed each year.

Usually more common in men over 40, the numbers of women and young people being diagnosed are rising.

Tobacco is still considered to be the main cause for mouth cancer, with tobacco and alcohol contributing to at least three–quarters of cases.

However, the protective effect of coffee was not reduced in smokers or drinkers.

The HPV virus, which is transmitted by oral sex, has recently been identified as another key risk factor and an unhealthy diet can also contribute.

The Foundation advises an increased intake of fruit, vegetables, fish and eggs, as growing evidence suggests these can lower risks.

The Foundation emphasises that early detection is vital. Dr Carter added: “The chance of survival can increase from five in ten people to nine in ten people if the disease is caught early on.”

Early symptoms include: an non–healing mouth ulcer, red or white patches in the mouth, unusual swelling, or lumps in the mouth. If you are suffering from any of these symptoms the Foundation advises you visit your dentist or ring the National Dental Helpline on 0845 063 1188. More information can be found at

Mouth Cancer Action Month is taking place in November this year, and helps to raise awareness of the illness.


Editor’s Notes

For further information please contact the Foundation’s Press Office on 01788 539 792 or email [email protected]

You can find more information on mouth cancer at the website

The study was published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention – a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research. The study was reviewed by the Mail Online and WebMD.

Mouth cancer claims the lives of 2,000 every year, making it the UK’s fastest growing cancer.

In the UK around 5,000 are diagnosed with mouth cancer each year.

Mouth cancer has previously been found to be more common in men and those over the age of 40, though an increasing number of women and young people are developing the condition.

The charity strongly advises people of all ages to check their mouths and have regular dentist appointments.

People who smoke and drink have been found to be at a higher risk, and are up to 30 times more likely to develop mouth cancer.

Initial signs of the disease include a non–healing mouth ulcer, a red or white patch in the mouth, or unusual lumps or swelling in the mouth.

Poor diet is linked to a third of all cancer cases. Evidence shows an increase in fruit and vegetables lowers the risk, as does fish and eggs.

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