Drinking Coffee May Reduce Colorectal Cancer-Related Mortality Risk

Laurie Toich, Associate Editor
Published Online: Monday, January 8th, 2018
Coffee may provide benefits other than a morning energy boost, previous studies have found. A recent study published in Gastroenterology points to specific benefits for patients with colorectal cancer. 

In previous studies, coffee consumption has been linked to reduced risk of certain diseases, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Other research has also indicated a reduced risk of overall and disease-specific mortality. 

These benefits may also include patients with cancer, according to the new study, which found that patients with colorectal cancer (CRC) who consumed 4 or more cups of coffee per day had a significantly lower risk of early mortality compared with patients who did not drink coffee.

“Until now, very few dietary factors have been linked with colorectal cancer prognosis. Our new study suggests that coffee may potentially improve survival of patients diagnosed with colorectal cancer,” said lead study author Yang Hu.

Coffee has been shown to fight inflammation and insulin resistance due to its antioxidant properties, according to the study authors. These factors can also be beneficial for patients with cancer.
Included in the study were 1600 patients diagnosed with CRC who were enrolled in the Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study.
The investigators discovered that patients who drank at least 4 cups of coffee per day were 52% less likely to die from CRC compared with non-coffee drinkers, according to the study. Patients who drank coffee were also 30% less likely to die from any cause compared with non-coffee drinkers.
Patients who drank at least 2 cups of coffee per day before their diagnosis and who maintained this intake level after diagnosis had a 37% reduced risk of CRC mortality and a 29% reduced risk of all-cause mortality compared with non-coffee drinkers or those who drank less than 2 cups of coffee per day before and after diagnosis, according to the study.
These results suggest that patients with CRC may be able to lower their risk of mortality by consuming coffee, according to the authors.
Notably, these benefits were consistent for both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee, according to the study.
“Although we can’t claim causality between drinking coffee and reduced mortality risk, it is still very impressive to see such significant reductions in deaths from colorectal cancer and other causes among patients who drank at least four cups of coffee each day,” said senior author Mingyang Song, MD, ScD. “Should our findings be confirmed in further studies, physicians may want to encourage their patients with colorectal cancer to start drinking coffee if they have not done so already, and, for those who are already coffee drinkers, to maintain their coffee intake. For patients who cannot tolerate caffeine, decaf is a good option.”

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