- A new study found that patients with colon cancer who drank more coffee had better outcomes, including longer survival and less risk of worsening cancer.
- The more coffee they drink (up to 4 cups a day), the better the results, the researchers found. This is true for both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee.
- This does not suggest that coffee can cure or prevent cancer, but adds to existing evidence that the popular beverage is safe and can provide a variety of health benefits.
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For people diagnosed with colon cancer, a cup of coffee can offer some unexpected benefits.
Drinking more coffee, up to four cups a day, is associated with better outcomes in patients with colon cancer, according to a study published Sept. 1
Researchers from a number of hospitals, including the Mayo Clinic and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, examined 1,171 colon cancer patients in an observational study as part of a clinical trial.
Despite variables such as race, alcohol use, and even coffee supplements such as milk and sugar, they found that anyone who drank two or three cups of coffee a day had a better overall survival than patients who did not drink any coffee.
They found that cancer drinkers’ cancer progressed more slowly and was less likely to worsen.
Moreover, the more patients consume coffee, the greater the associated benefits. Patients who drank four or more cups of coffee a day had the best survival rate and the lowest risk of complications from the disease. This is true for both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee, the study found.
Years of research show that coffee helps people with colon cancer
Although these results are not sufficient to establish a causal link between coffee drinking and better cancer outcomes, the clear link adds to the existing evidence of the health benefits of coffee.
Previous research has shown that coffee is not only safe in moderation (up to five cups a day), but is also associated with a lower risk of certain cancers, a healthy metabolism and fewer cases of cardiovascular disease.
And researchers have long found specific benefits for colon cancer patients. Two previous studies in 2017 and 2015 found that drinking coffee was also associated with better outcomes among patients with earlier-stage, non-metastatic colon cancer.
Researchers have suggested that coffee may have protective effects in cancer patients, in part because it helps moderate insulin levels, but also because it is high in antioxidants.
Coffee is not a cure or prevention, but research gives hope as colon cancer rates rise
If confirmed, this could be a major breakthrough for patient outcomes, as research shows that colon cancer has been on the rise over the past decade, especially among younger people. However, adults over the age of 50 continue to be at greater risk, as do people with a family history of cancer or lifestyle risk factors such as poor diet or lack of access to care.
More research is needed to understand how coffee may play a role in cancer outcomes. Meanwhile, however, researchers say coffee should not be considered a cure or prevent cancer.
“Although it is premature to recommend high coffee intake as a potential treatment for colon cancer, our study suggests that drinking coffee is not harmful and may be beneficial,” said Dr. Kimi Ng, senior author of the study. and co-director of colon and rectal cancer at Dana-Farber, said in a press release.
“Further research is needed to determine whether there is indeed a causal link between coffee consumption and improved outcomes in patients with colorectal cancer and exactly which compounds in coffee are responsible for this benefit.”
Drinking up to 5 cups of coffee a day has no long-term dangers and can even reduce the risk of chronic diseases, according to a review of 95 studies on coffee drinkers.
A large study found that black Americans were more likely to die from colorectal cancer because they were less likely to receive life-saving treatments.
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