coffee and coffee beans
Colon and rectal cancer
Diet & Nutrition

Coffee Consumption Linked to Decreased Risk of Colorectal Cancer

Whether you like your coffee black, decaf, half-caff or even instant, feel free to drink up. Researchers at the University of Southern California (USC) Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center of Keck Medicine of USC have found that coffee consumption decreases the risk of colorectal cancer. The study appeared in the April 1st, 2016 issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, which is published by the American Association of Cancer Research.

A release from the university explains that the study examined over 5,100 men and women who had been diagnosed with colorectal cancer within the past six months, along with an additional 4,000 men and women with no history of colorectal cancer to serve as a control group. Participants reported their daily consumption of boiled (espresso), instant, decaffeinated and filtered coffee, as well as their total consumption of other liquids. A questionnaire also gathered information about many other factors that influence the risk of colorectal cancer, including family history of cancer, diet, physical activity and smoking.

The release quotes Stephen Gruber, MD, PhD, MPH, director of the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center and senior author of the study, as saying,”We found that drinking coffee is associated with lower risk of colorectal cancer, and the more coffee consumed, the lower the risk.”

The data showed that even moderate coffee consumption, between one to two servings a day, was associated with a 26 percent reduction in the odds of developing colorectal cancer after adjusting for known risk factors. Moreover, the risk of developing colorectal cancer continued to decrease to up to 50 percent when participants drank more than 2.5 servings of coffee each day. The indication of decreased risk was seen across all types of coffee, both caffeinated and decaffeinated.

“We were somewhat surprised to see that caffeine did not seem to matter,” Gruber said. “This indicates that caffeine alone is not responsible for coffee’s protective properties.”

Coffee contains many elements that contribute to overall colorectal health and may explain the preventive properties. Caffeine and polyphenol can act as antioxidants, limiting the growth of potential colon cancer cells. Melanoidins generated during the roasting process have been hypothesized to encourage colon mobility. Diterpenes may prevent cancer by enhancing the body’s defense against oxidative damage.

“The levels of beneficial compounds per serving of coffee vary depending on the bean, roast and brewing method,” said first author Stephanie Schmit, PhD, MPH. “The good news is that our data presents a decreased risk of colorectal cancer regardless of what flavor or form of coffee you prefer.”

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