Daily Coffee Could Improve Survival for Colon Cancer Patients

Daily Coffee Could Improve Survival for Colon Cancer PatientsDaily Coffee Could Improve Survival for Colon Cancer Patients

In a new study, researchers from the US Dana-Farber Cancer Institute report that regular caffeinated coffee intake may be associated with significantly reduced cancer recurrence and improve survival in patients with stage 3 colon cancer.

The study, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, found that the greatest benefit came from consuming four or more cups of coffee a day.

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

Given the high prevalence rate of coffee, it is not surprising that a lot of research has been conducted investigating the effect that coffee has on the body, reports

A study published in April claimed that women diagnosed with breast cancer who are taking the drug tamoxifen could halve their risk of recurrence by drinking at least two cups a day.

According to the authors, previous observational studies have found colon cancer is more likely to recur in people with higher-than-expected levels of insulin, as well as associating increased coffee consumption with a decreased risk of type 2 diabetes and increased insulin sensitivity.

For the study, 953 patients with stage 3 colon cancer completed dietary pattern questionnaires during and 6 months after receiving chemotherapy. Researchers specifically focused on the influence of coffee, nonherbal tea and caffeine on cancer recurrence and mortality.

They found patients who drank four or more cups of coffee a day - around 460 milligrams of caffeine - were 42% less likely to have their cancer recur than patients who did not drink coffee at all. Those who regularly drank four or more cups of coffee were also 33% less likely to die from cancer or any other cause during the follow-up period.

Further analysis of the results suggested that the lower cancer risk was attributable to the amount of caffeine consumed rather than other components of the coffee.

The precise mechanism behind these findings is currently unknown, although researchers suggest it may be that caffeine consumption increases insulin sensitivity. This means that less insulin is required by the body, potentially reducing inflammation - a risk factor for both cancer and diabetes.

As the study is observational, researchers are reticent to make recommendations about coffee consumption until their findings have been validated by further research.

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