What if your urine smells like coffee but you DON’T drink coffee?
Could this be a sign of cancer?
Drinking a lot of coffee can make your urine smell like coffee, but it’s a whole new ballgame if you never take in even a drop of coffee, but are still picking up the smell of coffee once the urine stream starts leaving your body.
Can Cancer Make Urine Smell Like Coffee?
Cancer can change the odor of urine. In fact, there are three cancers that can give urine a distinct smell:
Now before you panic, there’s something else you need to know. These changes in odor are NOT detectable by the human nose!
If dogs and machines—which detect these odors—could talk to us, perhaps we’d know if these cancers could make human urine smell like coffee.
Until then, it’s safe to say that if you smell coffee coming from your urine, it’s a very strong bet that it’s not cancer, but more likely from something you ate. Asparagus can make your excrement smell like rotting cabbage.
Dehydration can cause a strong odor, sometimes resembling the concentrated stink of a public port-o-potty.
A urinary tract infection can cause a foul odor, but nothing like coffee.
Prostate Cancer and Urine Odor
The Journal of Breath Research describes a gas chromatography system that “smells” prostate cancer in urine.
The system is called Odoreader, developed by Professor Chris Probert from the University of Liverpool’s Institute of Translational Medicine and Professor Normal Ratcliffe at UWE Bristol.
Samples of urine are inserted into the Odoreader. Algorithms then measure it.
Currently there is no accurate test for prostate cancer, and often, men are subjected to unnecessary biopsies, while other cases consist of missed tumors.
“Our aim is to create a test that avoids this procedure at initial diagnosis by detecting cancer in a non-invasive way by smelling the disease in men’s urine,” explains Professor Ratcliffe in the paper.
“A few years ago we did similar work to detect bladder cancer following a discovery that dogs could sniff out cancer,” he continues. “We have been using the Odoreader, which is like an electronic nose to sense the cancer.”
The British Medical Journal (Willis et al) reports, “Dogs can be trained to distinguish patients with bladder cancer on the basis of urine odour more successfully than would be expected by chance alone.”
To date, there is no evidence that the human nose can detect cancer in urine, let alone that smelling coffee in one’s urine means possible cancer somewhere in the body.
Mice Can Sniff Out Lung Cancer in Urine
“Cancer tumors result in a change in body-related odors that can be detected by trained animal sensors and by sophisticated chemical techniques,” explains biologist Gary K. Beauchamp, PhD, of Monell Chemical Senses Center, in a report appearing in PLoS One.
The paper explains that mice were trained to detect an odor in mouse urine that signified lung cancer.
So relax, set your mind at ease, stay hydrated and consider the possibility that any coffee aroma that seems to coincide with your urine output just might be emanating from the air ducts in your bathroom – that share passageways with your neighbor’s unit if your units are connected!
Every so often in the early morning I smell the enticing aroma of coffee in my home – but nobody’s brewing coffee! It’s from my neighbor, coming through the air duct system.