Research proves “bitter is better” for cancer prevention — and much more


A new study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found coffee drinkers have a lower risk of developing skin cancer. You know coffee has gone mainstream when government researchers at the National Cancer Institute are studying it, instead of just drinking it on their many work breaks!

Too bad the research fails to trickle down to those who need it! Many dieticians and nutritionists still consider coffee as a “vice,” a “bad habit,” or even a “crutch.” But as I’ve often said, coffee is a natural product, full of biologically active phytonutrients. So what’s not to like?

Coffee’s benefits relate to its bitterness. In fact, in Nature, we can often say bitter is better. It’s a sign of the rich contents of biologically active constituents. For example, the more bitter a lettuce leaf or vegetable tastes, the higher the nutritional content. On the other hand, something bland like iceberg lettuce has lost all nutritional value.

So, since bitter is better, these experts need to wake up and…taste the coffee.

Previous research shows coffee boosts short-term mental function and preserves long-term function. Plus, antioxidants and other constituents in coffee support cardiovascular function. And now — the new research I mentioned earlier even shows drinking coffee reduces your risk of developing melanoma, the one truly deadly form of skin cancer.

Bad advice still doled out regarding sun exposure

Of course, dermatologists and other experts use scare tactics about skin cancer to keep us out of the sun. The truth is — only nine percent of skin cancers are melanoma. And dermatologists can easily treat and remove the other 91 percent of so-called skin “cancers” during outpatient visits. These growths don’t invade or metastasize. (So why are they even called “cancer”?)

The real kicker here, though, is that research links higher sun exposure to lower melanoma risk.

Yes, you should avoid excessive exposure to strong sunlight during adolescence and young adulthood. In fact, the FDA acted sensibly to regulate the use of tanning beds for this reason. And in this case, I want to give this agency credit. (Just as it should get credit for the recent requirement to label genetically modified salmon.)

But they would be more sensible yet if they would also stop making blanket recommendations that everyone should avoid the sun like vampires.

20-year study turns up solid results

The new analysis on coffee included 447,357 participants in the National Institutes of Health AARP prospective study started back in 1995. At that time, researchers obtained dietary information about daily intake of coffee, both regular and decaffeinated. Over time, 2,904 men and women developed melanoma.

Men and women who consumed four or more cups per day had a 20 percent lower risk of developing melanoma compared to non-coffee drinkers. The protective effect was found only for caffeinated coffee, not decaffeinated. And the protection conferred by coffee was strongest against malignant melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer, compared to melanoma in situ, which is less serious and typically less difficult to treat.

The researchers cited the numerous beneficial bioactive compounds in coffee including diterpenes, polyphenols, trigonelline, and caffeine. In previous lab models, two compounds found in coffee — chlorogenic acid and caffeic acid — suppressed skin cancer induced by ultraviolet B (UVB) light. Clearly, ongoing research shows coffee has well-established and well-known “mechanisms of action” against cancer.

If coffee isn’t your bag, you could try tea.

Though, I have my doubts about green tea brewed in tea bags…

A recent study shows green tea helps prevent oral cancer. But the way it accomplished this feat is somewhat unsettling. You see, in lab tests, EGCG — the common catechin from green tea — actually induced oxidation in the mitochondria of the cancer cells. This action caused programmed cell death of the cancer cells.

The ECGC also “turned off” the genes that make antioxidants. Experts typically think the antioxidants in green confer benefits. But in this case, they acted as the opposite of an “antioxidant.” And while it worked against cancer cells, there’s no guarantee it won’t have a similar effect on healthy cells.

As I often warn, the concept of antioxidants is complicated. In fact, brewed green tea has many problems, as I explained in the April 2014 issue of my Insiders’ Cures newsletter. So — given this new finding — you might just want to swish the green tea around in your mouth for the anti-oral cancer activity, and then just spit it out!

In my view, rooibos tea (red bush) is a far better choice than green tea. Rooibos comes from a plant that’s been used for generations by South African tribesmen to survive in the hottest, harshest, driest place in the world — the Kalahari Desert. Aspal is what I call the active beneficial ingredient in rooibos. And I have been studying the remarkable benefits of aspal for decades.

Rooibos is a smooth, great tasting tea. But it doesn’t actually belong to the tea family. It comes from the legume family, a more highly biologically active family of plants.

You can also take rooibos as a supplement or water-soluble powder, together with other ingredients, that act synergistically for optimal nutrition and cellular hydration.


  1. “Coffee Drinking and Cutaneous Melanoma Risk in the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study,” Journal of the National Cancer Institute, January 20, 2015; 107 (2): dju421
  2. “Differential prooxidative effects of the green tea polyphenol, (–)-epigallocatechin-3-gallate, in normal and oral cancer cells are related to differences in sirtuin 3 signaling,” Molecular Nutrition and Food Research, February 2015; 59(2): 203-211