Coffee and colon cancer

That extra cup of coffee may have one more health benefit to add to its growing list – a reduced risk of colorectal cancer.  A new study published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention found that coffee consumption may be inversely associated with the risk of this deadly disease.

The research from the study compared 5,145 patients who had been diagnosed with colorectal cancer within the past six months with a control group of 4,097 men and women with no history of the cancer.  The results showed drinking one or two cups of coffee a day was associated with a 26 percent lower risk of developing colorectal cancer. 

Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed in both men and women in the United States.  The American Cancer Society estimates that in the U.S. in 2016 alone, more than 95,000 new cases of colon cancer and 39,000 new cases or rectal cancer will be diagnosed.  Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of U.S. cancer deaths, after lung cancer, claiming an estimated 49,000 lives annually.

Coffee consumption has been associated with a lower risk of other diseases such as type 2 diabetes, liver disease, Parkinson’s disease and some forms of cancer. 

This recent study focused on having participants report their daily consumption of boiled (espresso), instant, decaffeinated and filtered coffee along with their total intake of other beverages a year prior to their cancer diagnosis.  When adjustments were made for known risk factors, the results showed that one to two cups of coffee daily was associated with reducing the risk of colorectal cancer. 

What was interesting in the study was that it didn’t matter if the coffee was caffeinated or decaffeinated.  This points to the fact that caffeine by itself may not be responsible for coffee’s protective factors.

There are many elements found in coffee that may contribute to keeping the colon healthy.  Coffee aids in digestion, inflammation, secretion of bile acids, insulin sensitivity, healthy gut bacteria, and the oxidative environment of the colon.  Antioxidants found in coffee of cholorgenic acids and polyphenols are thought to have carcinogenic effects.  Roasted coffee forms chemicals called melanoidins that may benefit the colon sort of like dietary fiber does. 

At this time, the researchers cannot say that they are able to advocate using coffee as a preventative measure against colorectal cancer.  But since the risks of drinking coffee are relatively few, enjoying that one extra cup may not be a bad idea.