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Coffee Associated with Colon Cancer Survival

If you’re a coffee lover, new research may give you a reason to savor your cup of joe even more. The research, reported on in the New York Times, found an association between high coffee intake and a decreased risk of cancer recurrence and death in patients with colon cancer. Published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, the study included 953 patients with stage III colon cancer (cancer that has spread to lymph nodes, tissues, or organs near the tumor). Patients reported their caffeinated coffee and tea intake, among other things, during chemotherapy treatments and again after six months. Researchers also tracked cancer recurrence and death rates in the participants. After adjusting for differences such as gender, age, diet, smoking, weight, and physical activity, they found that:

  • Patients who drank four or more cups of caffeinated coffee per day had a 42% lower risk of colon cancer recurrence or death compared with those who didn’t drink any caffeinated coffee.
  • Patients who drank the most caffeine from any source also had a statistically significant reduced risk of colon cancer recurrence or death compared with those who didn’t drink any caffeine.
  • Drinking non-caffeinated tea or coffee was not associated with lower risks of colon cancer recurrence or death.

It’s important to note that this study was observational, so more research is needed to show that drinking coffee itself, and not coffee drinkers’ other shared characteristics, was responsible for the health benefits the participants experienced. It’s also possible that the patients who were the sickest (and therefore more likely to have cancer recurrence) may have been unable to tolerate caffeine—this would mean that not drinking coffee was an effect of being sick, rather than the cause of a higher risk of cancer recurrence and death. That being said, these findings coincide with previous research that has associated coffee with a reduced risk of other cancers, like prostate cancer. In the end, the new study’s lead researcher, Dr. Charles S. Fuchs, may have summed it up best when he said, “If you’re a coffee drinker and enjoy your coffee, stick with it.”

Source: Journal of Clinical Oncology

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