Can Coffee Lower Risk of Colon Cancer’s Return?
By Alan Mozes
The study found that people with advanced (stage III) colon cancer who drank four or more cups of caffeinated coffee every day had 52 percent lower odds of disease recurrence or cancer death compared with coffee abstainers. Even people who regularly drank slightly less (two to three cups) per day appeared to reap some of the same benefits, just to a lesser degree.
“There is already an abundance of evidence that diet and lifestyle can have a great deal of positive impact in terms of reducing the risk for developing colon cancer,” explained study lead author Dr. Charles Fuchs, director of the Gastrointestinal Cancer Center at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. “Now we have found that caffeinated coffee seems to independently improve the outcome for colon cancer patients,” he said.
It’s important to note, however, that this study was only designed to find an association between coffee consumption and a lower risk of colon cancer recurrence or death from colon cancer. It wasn’t designed to prove a cause-and-effect relationship.
The study findings were released online Aug. 17 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.
To explore coffee’s impact on colon cancer, the research team focused on roughly 950 people with stage III colon cancer. They all completed nutrition questionnaires while undergoing postsurgical chemotherapy treatment at some point between 1999 and 2001.
Dietary information was collected again six months after completion of chemotherapy.
The study volunteers were asked about more than 130 different food and drink items. Those items included caffeinated coffee, decaffeinated coffee and non-herbal (caffeinated) tea. In turn, cancer recurrence and patient death rates were followed for an average of a little more than seven years.
Cancer returned in 329 people, mostly within five years of initial treatment, the study found. Of these, 288 died of their disease. An additional 36 people who didn’t have a diagnosis of a cancer recurrence also died during the study follow-up.