Coffee compels many people to rise out of bed every morning. While individuals have many reasons to drink caffeinated beverages, the most notable is often the pep such beverages provide. But coffee, tea and other caffeinated beverages actually may provide additional benefits, including helping to fend off disease, including colorectal cancer.
The American Cancer Society estimates that, in the United States, more than 95,000 new cases of colon cancer and 39,000 new cases of rectal cancer will be diagnosed in 2016. Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed in men and women. However, coffee may help reduce instances of colon cancer.
A study titled “Coffee Consumption and the Risk of Colorectal Cancer,” which was published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, found that regular coffee consumption inversely correlates to colorectal cancer risk. Coffee has been identified as a protective agent against colorectal cancer, as several of its components affect the physiology of the colon and can make cancerous cells less likely to take root there. The Journal of the National Cancer Institute also substantiates these claims. Frequent coffee consumption has been associated with a reduced risk of colorectal cancer in a number of case-control studies - for both men and women.
Drinking coffee may not only help keep cancer at bay, it may boost the survival rate from colon cancer, too. Information from a study published in The Journal of Clinical Oncology stated that colon cancer patients who are heavy coffee drinkers have a far lower risk of dying or having their cancer return than those who do not drink coffee. Significant benefits start at two to three cups per day. People who consumed four cups of caffeinated coffee or more a day had half the rate of recurrence or death than non-coffee drinkers.
Other data indicates caffeine alone may not be behind the reduced cancer risks and rates - it may be the coffee itself. Researchers at the University of Southern California Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center of Keck Medicine found that decreased colorectal risk was seen across all types of coffee, both caffeinated and decaffeinated. According to Dr. Stephen Gruber, the author of the study, coffee contains many elements that contribute to overall colorectal health, which may explain coffee’s 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 thought to encourage colon mobility, and diterpenes may prevent cancer by enhancing the body’s defense against oxidative damage.
Although data continues to suggest that coffee can help reduce colorectal cancer risk and survival rates, additional information is still needed before doctors can start recommending coffee consumption as a preventative measure.