Men should drink coffee regularly to avoid developing prostate cancer, according to a major study published Wednesday.

Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health said men who drink coffee on a daily basis are around 20 to 60 percent less likely to develop any form of the disease—with a higher intake linked to a lower risk.

The men least likely to develop lethal prostate cancer were those drinking six or more cups of coffee a day, but even those drinking no more than three cups a day lowered the risk by 30 percent, the 12-year study found.

Caffeine did not appear to be a factor in the research, as the 45,000 participants who reported their coffee consumption drank both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee.

The researchers said it was the antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds contained in coffee that affect the body's insulin levels and sex hormone levels, both of which have been linked to prostate cancer.

Writing in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, the scientists said that more research would be needed to isolate which components of coffee might be responsible.