Can coffee lower colon cancer risk?

Can coffee lower colon cancer risk?

Drinking coffee may offer some level of protection against colon cancer, a new study suggests.

The researchers examined over 5,100 men and women who had been diagnosed with colorectal cancer within the past six months, along with an additional 4,000 men and women with no history of colorectal cancer to serve as a control group. Participants reported their daily consumption of coffee, including espresso, instant, decaffeinated and filtered coffee.

“We found that drinking coffee is associated with lower risk of colorectal cancer, and the more coffee consumed, the lower the risk,” said Dr. Stephen Gruber, director of the University of Sothern California Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center and senior author of the study, which was published by the American Association for Cancer Research.

The data shows that people who drink one or two cups of coffee per day have a 26 percent reduction in the odds of developing colorectal cancer. The risk of developing colorectal cancer decreases up to 50 percent for those who drink more than 2.5 servings of coffee each day.

The study authors explain that caffeine and polyphenol can act as antioxidants, limiting the growth of potential colon cancer cells. They have also hypothesized that melanoidins, generated during the roasting process, encourage colon mobility and diterpenes may prevent cancer by enhancing the body’s defense against oxidative damage.

“Additional research needs to be done before I start prescribing coffee to my patients as a preventative measure for colon cancer, but as a coffee drinker myself, it is nice to see some potential health-related benefits,” says Dr. Kenneth Chi, a gastroenterologist at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, Ill.

This is not the first time scientists researched the connection between coffee drinking and colon cancer. An earlier study showed that drinking coffee every day could help keep colon cancer from returning. Over the past few years, studies have linked coffee drinking to reduced risk of liver cancer, endometrial cancer, improved heart health, better memory and decreased risk of Type 2 diabetes.

Colon cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States, and 90 percent of new cases occur in people 50 years and older, according to the American Cancer Society.

To help prevent colon cancer and cancers in general, Dr. Chi recommends the following:

  • Get screened. If you are 50 years old or older (45 for African Americans), you should get a screening test for colorectal cancer.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Don’t smoke.
  • Drink in moderation.
  • Stay physically active.
  • Stick to a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, which may also play a role in cancer prevention.

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About the Author

Sonja Vojcic
Sonja Vojcic

Sonja Vojcic, health enews contributor, is a public affairs and marketing manager at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital and Advocate Children’s Hospital in Park Ridge, Ill. She has several years of international public relations and marketing experience with a Master’s degree in Communications from DePaul University. In her free time, Sonja enjoys spending time with her family, travelling, and keeping up with the latest health news and fashion trends.

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