Researchers say that women who drink multiple cups of coffee per day may reduce their risk of developing the most common cancer of the female reproductive organs by almost a fifth.

According to the American Cancer Society, about 1 in 37 women are afflicted by endometrial cancer, which causes about 10,170 annual deaths in the U.S. While past studies have linked hormonal imbalances, diabetes and obesity to a higher risk of developing endometrial cancer or uterine sarcomas, a new one set out to determine how dietary factors may determine risk.

The study, published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, analyzed about 1,300 women who participated in the European Prospective Investigation Into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) Study with endometrial cancer. The women answered a dietary questionnaire, and researchers assessed the link between 84 foods and nutrients, and the risk of endometrial cancer, according to Medical News Today.

The researchers determined total fat, monounsaturated fat, phosphorus, carbohydrates, yogurt, butter, potatoes, cheese and coffee were all associated with a heightened risk of endometrial cancer. The researchers then analyzed a separate group of about 1,530 women with endometrial cancer who participated in the Nurses’ Health Study (NHS), and focused on those nine foods specifically in relation to the women’s diets.

Based on the results of the two groups, researchers were able to determine that drinking three cups of coffee a day reduced endometrial cancer risk by 19 percent among women in the EPIC study, compared with women who drank less than one cup of coffee per day, Medical News Today reported. In the NHS study, drinking four cups of coffee was found to reduce the risk of cancer by 18 percent.

“Coffee intake is worth investigating further to see if coffee can be used for the prevention of endometrial cancer,” Dr. Melissa Merritt of Imperial College London said in a news release.

“However, before clinical recommendations can be made, further studies are needed to evaluate this question in other studies and to try to isolate the components of coffee that may be responsible for any influence on endometrial cancer,” she said.

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