Some great news has emerged for coffee lovers after a new study has shown that our favorite hot beverage can actually help decrease the risk of getting colorectal cancer. This good news stems from a recent study carried out by researchers at the Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center of Keck Medicine at the University of Southern California (USC).
Whether you opt for that morning espresso, decaffeinated, instant or filtered it makes no difference, they all seem to have benefits. Further to these findings, the more coffee drank, the greater the benefits become.
The study and its findings
The study examined over 9000 men and women – 5100 men and women all of whom had received a diagnosis of colorectal cancer in the past six months, and 4000 men and women who had absolutely history of the disease. The group with no history of the disease was to act as a control group for the experiment. All participants in the study had to report on their daily intake of coffee – whether it was instant, filtered, decaffeinated – in addition to the total amount of other fluids consumed in a day. Moreover, information was gathered from each participant on factors that may influence their risk of getting the disease – other family members having cancer, their diet, how physically active they are and whether they drink alcohol or smoke.
“We found that drinking coffee is associated with lower risk of colorectal cancer, and the more coffee consumed, the lower the risk,” said Stephen Gruber, MD, PhD, MPH, director of the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center and senior author of the study.
The data from this study showed a number of interesting findings. Moderate consumption of coffee – 1-2 units a day – reduced the risk of getting colorectal cancer by up to twenty-six percent. However, those coffee lovers who drink more than 1-2 servings can continue to do so with added benefits. The study showed that those who consumed 2.5 servings of coffee or more a day reduced their risk of getting colorectal cancer by a whopping 50%. What made these findings even more interesting was the fact that whether the coffee consumed was caffeinated or decaffeinated did not alter the results. Decaffeinated coffee consumed is just as effective at lowering the risk as caffeinated. Stephen Gruber of USC admitted the surprise of all involved when this factor was revealed. This finding conveys that caffeine as an element on it’s own is not responsible for these protective properties shown by coffee.
Preventative components in coffee
Two of the biggest components of coffee are caffeine and polyphenol. These elements can act as antioxidants which could potentially limit any cancer mutations that may cause colorectal cells to divide. During the process involved in the making of coffee beans, polymers called melanoidins are formed. These melanoidins may help movement of the colon it has been reported. Another compound found in coffee known as diterpene has been said to aid in the defense of oxidative damage thus helping the body prevent against cancer. We can only conclude from these findings that the elements found in the nations’ favorite drink has preventative properties and contributes keeping the colon healthy.
Stephanie Schmit, PhD, MPH, first author of the study was happy with these findings stating that although surprising that it did not seem to matter whether the coffee was caffeinated or decaffeinated, it was encouraging to know that coffee contained other elements that contributed to one’s health and the prevention of colorectal cancer.
Comparisons between USC & the study in Israel
This study was not just carried out in the University of California but in Clalit National Israeli Cancer Control Center in Haifa, Israel. The Director of the Cancer Control Center in Israel, Gad Rennert, MD, PhD, conducted the study with his research team to compare and contrast the results with those found in the University of California. There is of course a big advantage of doing such a large study like this is two contrasting countries as it shows the results to be relevant to many coffee-drinking populations, not just the US.
Gad Rennert reported results just like the findings from the University of California. Although consumption of coffee would be of a lower level in Israel than in the United States, the results obtained from the study were extremely similar. This also coveys that the results stand with various types of coffee from various countries, another encouraging find in this study.
More evidence needed
Stephen Gruber, director of the study in the University of California was quick to add that excess coffee consumption can also have health risks and more studies need to be done for concrete evidence to emerge that advocates the findings stating that additional research needs to be done before coffee can be classed as preventative of the disease. For now though coffee lovers can enjoy the fact that their daily intake of their favorite hot beverage can contribute to lowering the risk of them developing colorectal cancer.
Colorectal Cancer in the US
In the US, colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer among men and women. The American Cancer Society estimate that there are 95,000 new cases of colon cancer and 39,000 new cases of rectal cancer diagnosed each year. These statistics mean that almost five percent of US men and four percent of US women will develop this disease at some point in their lives. With those figures I am sure we will all be reaching for that extra cup of coffee in an attempt to lower our risk!
The complete study is available in the April 1, 2016 issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, which is published by the American Association of Cancer Research.