Coffee Reduces Risk of Colon Cancer Recurrence in Patients

Study finds coffee consumption improves survival odds in some patients.

Study finds coffee consumption improves survival odds in some patients.

Good news for patients in remission of colon cancer comes as a study reveals a connection between caffeinated coffee consumption may help prevent disease recurrence.

The new, large study was conducted by researchers from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Patients enrolled in the study benefited the most from 4 cups of coffee per day or more. These patients were 42% less likely to have their cancer return than non-coffee drinkers, and were 33% less likely to die from cancer or any other cause.

Two to three cups of coffee yielded positive results as well; however, these were not as beneficial to patients as four cups or more per day. Additionally, 1 cup of coffee or less per day was not associated with any benefit for the patients.

The study included nearly 1000 patients who filled out dietary pattern questionnaires early in the study, during chemotherapy and again about a year later.

“We found that coffee drinkers had a lower risk of the cancer coming back and a significantly greater survival and chance of a cure,” said Charles Fuchs, MD, MPH, director of the Gastrointestinal Cancer Center at Dana-Farber.

Most instances of the cancer resurfacing occur within 5 years of remission and are uncommon after that, he noted. In patients with stage III disease, the cancer has been found in the lymph nodes near the original tumor but there are no signs of further metastasis. Dr. Fuchs said these patients have an approximately 35% chance of recurrence.

While the results of the study remain positive, Dr. Fuchs is hesitant to administer any medical advice regarding the findings.

“If you are a coffee drinker and are being treated for colon cancer, don’t stop,” he said. “But if you’re not a coffee drinker and wondering whether to start, you should first discuss it with your physician.”

The study is the first of its kind to evaluate the connection between caffeinated coffee consumption and colon cancer recurrence. It adds to a number of recent studies suggesting that coffee may have protective effects against the development of several kinds of cancer, including postmenopausal breast cancer, melanoma, liver cancer, and advanced prostate cancer.

Researchers focused on coffee and other dietary factors because coffee consumption had been shown to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. While the researchers suggest that the reduced risk of recurrence is completely due to coffee consumption and no other factor, it is still unclear why caffeine has this effect, with the findings in need of further study.

A factor suggested by researchers is due to caffeine consumption increasing the body’s sensitivity to insulin so less of it is needed, which in turn may help reduce inflammation.

In addition to drinking coffee, other measures to risk of cancer include avoiding obesity, exercising regularly, adopting a healthier diet and eating nuts, which are proven to reduce the risk of diabetes.