Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Coffee break: Compound brewing new research in colon, breast cancer

13.11.2009
Researcher says no concerns about drinking coffee at this point

A compound in coffee has been found to be estrogenic in studies by Texas AgriLife Research scientists.

Though the studies have not been conducted to determine recommended consumption amounts, scientists say the compound, called trigonelline or "trig," may be a factor in estrogen-dependent breast cancer but beneficial against colon cancer development.

"The important thing to get from this is that 'trig' has the ability to act like a hormone," said Dr. Clinton Allred, AgriLife Research nutrition scientist. "So there is a tie to cancer in the sense that we are looking at estrogen-dependent cancer cells. But that doesn't suggest that it would actually cause the disease. I don't believe there should be any concern about drinking coffee at this point."

His report was published in the Journal of Nutrition. Allred's lab studies dietary compounds that can mimic the hormone estradiol – the primary hormone in women. His main focus has been to look at how estrogen protects against the development of colon cancer. Estradiol is one of three estrogen hormones. "There's a history of these compounds in crops such as soy," Allred said. "Soy has a number of different compounds that actually can mimic estradiol in several disease states some of which are good and some of which have the potential to be more deleterious-type effects."

Allred said a former colleague mentioned an interest in finding the properties of "trig" – a natural compound used in traditional Indian culture for post-menopausal women.

Because the chemical structure of "trig" was so unlike estradiol, Allred didn't think the compound would be estrogenic.

"Estrogen-dependent tumors in the presence of estradiol will grow faster," Allred said. "If you use those cells in a laboratory setting, you can determine whether something is estrogenic because they will literally make a tumor grow faster."

He said that a series of experiences and different approaches showed that "trig," a vitamin derivative, was fairly estrogenic at very low concentrations.

"We haven't gotten as far as to suggest that if a woman had the disease that it would necessarily be a problem. But what we've proven is that the compound is estrogenic or can be at certain concentrations and doses," Allred said.

He added that "trig" is in coffee beans, though in different amounts depending on the variety of coffee bean. The two major types of coffee beans used for what is consumed in the U.S. both contain it, he said.

"The more you roast a coffee bean, the less there is," Allred said. "But the most critical aspect is that when you do a water extract of ground coffee, which is basically how you make a cup of coffee. It does in fact come out in the water, so we know it is in a cup of coffee."

Nevertheless, the researchers have no idea what the exposure level would be or whether a particularly exposure – say from one cup of coffee – would be in the range seen in the laboratory tests.

"It is way too early to say that drinking a cup of coffee is exposing you to something that is definitely going to be estrogenic. All we know is that there is a compound in there that can be estrogenic in our systems. That is really the take-home message," Allred said.

Allred also cautioned that people often narrow one compound in a food without considering the total mix of compounds and how they interact with each other or in a human body.

"There is never a single compound when you're looking at food, and a cup of coffee is a food," Allred said. "There's a whole bunch of other things in it. There's caffeine. There's actually a little bit of fat. There are all sorts of others things in a cup of coffee that could interact with this."

The numerous compounds in each food product means there are complex interactions, he explained, which is why nutritionists advise people that the whole food is better than any individual compound.

"That's why you can't take supplements to make up for food. You can never take all the things that are in a carrot and replace a carrot. In the end, you need to eat the carrot," he said. "We're a long way from understanding what this compound could do in the context of a food."

He said a concern is that menopausal women seek over-the-counter phytoestrogen compounds to relieve symptoms such as hot flashes. Women want what they believe to be a natural and/or safe mechanism, he said, because hormone replacement therapy has such a negative connotation.

But, Allred said, researchers estimate that from the time an estrogen-dependent breast tumor begins until it is diagnosed in a woman is about 30 years.

"That means there will be a number of women out there who will become menopausal, and begin to take phytoestrogens in supplement form," he said. "The majority of those come from soy. So our concern was, what if a woman becomes menopausal which means her estrogen levels are going to be low, she has estrogen-dependent breast cancer and doesn't even know it. And now she's consuming phytoestrogens.

"Physicians would never recommend you be on hormone replacement therapy if you had estrogen-dependent cancer. From a toxicology standpoint, it would that be a bad thing if you were consuming these phytoestrogens in high enough doses. It could be really dangerous."

A problem is that people believe that natural or plant-derived compounds are automatically safe which is not necessarily always true, he said. Also, consuming a compound in its pure form as a supplement in high doses may not be healthy.

"If we were getting a hormone from an animal, you wouldn't see people do that," he said. "The only difference is that this is a plant-derived compound, so they feel it is safe when that may not be so."

Yet, Allred added, scientists are finding that at least some of these compounds are doing positive things to prevent colon cancer.

"So there's going to be places that it's good – just as we've seen with estradiol," he noted. "There are going to be some disease states that it is quite good for and some disease states that you need to be mindful of."

Still, the compound's potential as a weapon against colon cancer has the researchers "pretty excited about that."

"We're seeing very interesting information as far as tumor formation and the ability of phytoestrogens to prevent colon cancer formation. So any other new, natural phytoestrogen that we are able to identify and relate to the diet, that would be the model we'd bring it in to," Allred said of possible future studies on "trig."

He said a hope would be to develop a drug that could treat colon tissue without getting into the entire body, thus exploiting the compound's mechanism to protect again cancer formation without producing other estrogenic effects.

"It's really important for us to come up with strategies that we can have the benefits in the colon without the risks associated with (estrogenic compounds)," Allred said.

Kathleen Phillips | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.tamu.edu

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht New study: How does Europe become a leading player for software and IT services?
03.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für System- und Innovationsforschung (ISI)

nachricht Reusable carbon nanotubes could be the water filter of the future, says RIT study
30.03.2017 | Rochester Institute of Technology

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Fighting drug resistant tuberculosis – InfectoGnostics meets MYCO-NET² partners in Peru

28.04.2017 | Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Wireless power can drive tiny electronic devices in the GI tract

28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering

Ice cave in Transylvania yields window into region's past

28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis

28.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>