Caffeine causes and prevents cancer

The benefits and risks of drinking coffee continue to be the subject of much debate. The following analysis and evaluation of articles from the Daily Mail will breach the topic even further.



A study found that caffeine reduces the risk of the disease by a fifth. The risk is even less for women who do not take the Pill or do not use hormone replacement therapy. Researchers in the U.S. investigated the links between lifestyle and health of 122,000 American nurses. As part of the study, which ran from 1976 to 2004, Dr Shelley Tworoger of Harvard Medical School compared the diets of 80,000 of these women with the incidence of ovarian cancer. During this time 737 of the women developed ovarian cancer. Women who had at least three cups of coffee a day were 20 per cent less likely to develop ovarian cancer than those who drank none. Among women who had never taken the Pill, coffee drinking cut the risk of ovarian cancer by 35 per cent. And for those who had not had hormone replacement therapy, the risk was 43 per cent less.

This study provides a good precision rate as the sample size and time span is very big. Hence the results could easily form a generalized assumption and back it up with objective evidence. However, the study does not consider other aspects that could l influence the results such as mental health, cross cultural differences and age. Its validity is questionable as there was hardly any information proving the existence of such a study and the reason for its outcome remains unclear.


Experts say caffeine may damage the DNA of babies in the womb, as it cuts the cells’ ability to fight off cancer triggers such as radiation. It hence makes the child more susceptible to leukemia, the most common cancer in children. However, although the scientists know they occur in the womb, they have yet to figure out why.

Scientists suggest that the study at Leicester University, which will scrutinize the caffeine intake of hundreds of pregnant women and compare the results with blood samples from their babies after birth, possess a ‘good likelihood’ to successfully establish a connection between caffeine and cancer.

The precision of the study would be very accurate as the sample size is relatively big.However, such an experiment is yet to be conducted. Hence this theory is only based on assumption as there is no objective evidence that could back it up. This makes the hypothesis unreliable and inaccurate. This is further strengthened by the use of phrases as ‘possessing a good likelihood’ and ‘potentially’. Since the outcome is a mere prediction the validity of the study is very low.

We all agree that its vital we confirm this theory or rule it out as it can make a huge difference on the way we perceive and use caffeine as it may be linked to mutations. A mutation is the permanent alteration of the nucleotide sequence and is the result of the expression of oncogenes. An oncogene is a gene that has the potential to cause cancer. Most normal cells will undergo a programmed form of rapid cell death (apoptosis) when critical functions are altered. Activated oncogenes can cause those cells designated for apoptosis to survive and proliferate instead and create cancer cells. The process by which cancer cells spread to other parts of the body is called metastasis. Establishing the actual effects of caffeine could potentially help us get a better perspective on mutations and maybe even help us prevent them.


Models of membrane structure


In 1935 Hugh Davson and James Danielli suggested that the phospholipid bilayer is sandwiched between layers of globular proteins. Thad been evidence of the presence of proteins and since both membrane and proteins could act as barriers, the belief seemed plausible. This became known as the Davson-Danielli model.

 However, the theory had several flaws. It remains unclear how proteins contain the flexible fluid, as they are generally stiff and can’t cope well with outside movement. Another problem was that the amount and/or type of membrane protein varied greatly between different cells.

In 1966, with the help of freeze fracturing: the splitting of cell membranes between the two lipid layers and thus revealing a 3D view of the surface texture, the model was disproved as it displayed that the proteins were actually embedded inside the layer and were amphipathic.

Thus came the creation of the Fluid mosaic model of Singer and Nicolson in 1975. With the help of fluorescent labelling, it became clear that the components of the membrane were able to move within its structure. Two different colored membranes were fused together and instead of maintaining the same colors, they diffused into each other and moved around.

Further details can be found in the following video: 


Exceptions to the cell theory

It is a well-known fact that in order to sustain a hypothesis in most work and knowledge fields, one needs to back it up with evidence. In science however, the aim is to disprove it. Only then could humanity move forward and develop successfully.

One of the most significant theories in biology is that cells are the smallest units of life and that all living organisms are made out of cells. However, even in cell theory there are organisms and tissues that are not made of typical cells and hence do not answer the requirements of the belief.

The first example is the Skeletal muscle. It is composed by muscle fibres and are enclosed by a membrane. However, they are much larger than the average cell and contain hundreds of nuclei.

Another example is the Giant algae (Acetabularia). Due to its big proportions, its estimated to consist of numerous small cells. In reality, its composed from one giant cell as it has only one nucleus and t=is therefore not multicellular.

The third and last example is the Aseptate Fungi. It is composed of thread-like structures called hyphae. They are not divided into sub-units, containing a single nucleus. Instead they consist of long sections, full with nuclei.

Despite these exceptions, the overall trend for living organisms being composed of cells is very strong. The cell theory has not been abandoned.