By age 60, an estimated 50 percent of men will develop an enlarged prostate — a condition that may gradually impact bladder function and interfere with your ability to urinate, according to the Mayo Clinic. While the exact cause of the condition is unknown, conflicting scientific research suggests coffee consumption may affect your risk of developing an enlarged prostate.
Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia
Benign prostatic hyperplasia, or an enlarged prostate, is a condition in men that causes uncomfortable urinary tract and bladder problems when the prostate gland expands. Located under your bladder, your prostate naturally grows with age and can press against the urethra, a tube that runs from the bladder through the prostate and penis, carrying urine out of your body. This can make it hard to urinate and may reduce the flow and force of your urine. Symptoms of the condition, known as BPH, include frequent urination, particularly at night; difficulty beginning to urinate, dribbling after urination is complete, inability to urinate or completely empty your bladder, blood or pain during urination and a weak urine flow. Medication, surgery and lifestyle and dietary changes can help alleviate symptoms and treat the condition.
The Role of Coffee
Coffee is a caffeinated beverage that can aggravate symptoms of an enlarged prostate. While caffeine is well known for its ability to stimulate the nervous system to help keep you alert, it is also a diuretic. A diuretic increases urine production by the kidneys and helps eliminate fluid from your body. In men who have an enlarged prostate and an already irritated or obstructed bladder, this can worsen symptoms by boosting urination frequency and the sudden and intense need to urinate, John Hopkins Medicine notes.
Coffee and BPH Risk
Scientific studies examining the link between coffee consumption and the risk of an enlarged prostate have found no clear association. An early study in the May 1992 edition of the “American Journal of Epidemiology” reported study participants who consumed four or more cups of coffee per day had a lower risk of developing the condition compared to those who consumed less than one cup; however, a study by R. Gass in the November 2002 issue of “BJU International” found an increase in coffee consumption significantly increased the risk of an enlarged prostate. In the study, Gass theorized coffee increases blood levels of low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, which may be involved in the development of the disease.
While the impact of coffee intake on the risk of BPH is uncertain, research in the January 2006 issue of “Urology” suggests other dietary habits may also play a role. According to authors Francesca Bravi and colleagues, study participants who frequently consumed cereals and poultry but not enough vegetables and pulses had a greater likelihood of developing an enlarged prostate. Further study is necessary to validate the study’s findings.
- Mayo Clinic; Enlarged Prostate — Does Diet Play a Role?; Jennifer Nelson, et al.; January 2010
- Johns Hopkins Medicine; Straight Talk on Caffeine and BPH; January 5, 2011
- “American Journal of Epidemiology”; Risk Factors For Surgery For Prostatic Hypertrophy; Alan S. Morrison; May 1992
- “BJU International”; Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia — The Opposite Effects of Alcohol and Coffee Intake; R. Gass; November 2002
- “Urology”; Food Groups and Risk of Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia; Francesca Bravi, et al.; January 2006
- Mayo Clinic; Prostate Gland Enlargement; December 2009