Coffee Consumption May Decrease Colorectal Cancer Risk

People who consume 2.5 servings or more of coffee per day found to have a 50% lesser risk of developing colorectal cancer.

Though most average people do not think too much about the possible benefits of coffee intake besides being caffeinated, daily coffee drinkers may be doing themselves a huge favor. Whether it is regular, espresso, decaf or any variety, a new study by researchers at the University of Southern California Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center of Keck Medicine shows that people who enjoy a daily cup of coffee can actually decrease their risk of developing colorectal cancer.

The American Cancer Society estimates diagnosis of about 95,000 new cases of colon cancer and 39,000 new cases of rectal cancer in the United States alone this year. Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in both men and women in the United States.

In this study, researchers examined a group of over 5100 people diagnosed with colorectal cancer in the past 6 months, as well as a control group of 4000 people with no history of colorectal cancer. Both groups filled out questionnaires about any risks in developing this cancer, as well as how much coffee and additional liquids they took in per day.

The results were what any coffee drinker would love to hear. The more coffee the subjects drank, the lower their risk was in developing colorectal cancer. A moderate coffee drinker, someone who consumes 1 to 2 servings per day, reduces their odds of developing colorectal cancer about 26%. The risk decreases about 50%with 2.5 or more servings per day. This research was conducted with all types of coffee, including decaf and caffeinated alike.

While researchers cannot pinpoint an exact reason for this decrease, they believe that it is due to many factors in the coffee itself, as well as how it is roasted. For example, regular coffee contains both caffeine and polyphenol, which researchers describe as antioxidants that can limit the growth of cancer cells. Researchers also found that “diterpenes may prevent cancer by enhancing the body's defense against oxidative damage.”

Furthermore, melanoidins are created during the roasting process, which may speed up colon mobility.

Though these findings are significant, researchers believe it is not enough to suggest coffee as a preventative measure and further analysis needs to be conducted before doing so. Researcher Stephen Gruber, MD, PhD, MPH, director of the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center and senior author of the study, said that because there is such a low risk factor to drinking coffee, everyone should enjoy the beverage freely.