A new study published in JAMA Oncology suggests drinking coffee could extend survival time in patients with colorectal cancer.
Colon cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death in the United States. The lifetime risk of developing colon cancer is about one in 20 or four or five percent. In 2020, the American Cancer Society predicts that there will be 104,610 new colon cancer cases and 43,340 new cases of rectal cancer.
Coffee and Colon Cancer
Researchers at Harvard-affiliated Dana-Farber Cancer Institute found drinking a few cups of coffee per day was associated with increased survival in patients with metastatic colorectal cancer (colon cancer that spreads to other parts of the body). The study also associated coffee drinking with a decreased risk of cancer worsening.
Caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee produced similar results, and patients who drank more than four cups of coffee per day experienced more significant benefits.
While the study establishes an association between coffee and reduced risk of colon cancer spreading and colon cancer death, it is not a cause-and-effect relationship. The good news is that drinking coffee is not detrimental to colon health.
Kimmie Ng, the senior author of the study, said, “Although it is premature to recommend a high intake of coffee as a potential treatment for colorectal cancer, our study suggests that drinking coffee is not harmful and may potentially be beneficial.”
Diet and Colon Cancer Risk
What role does diet play in colon cancer? Heredity is only responsible for ten percent of colon cancers. This means that the majority of colon cancers develop from environmental facts and unhealthy habits. Diet plays a crucial role in colon cancer risk. Some foods associated with colon cancer risk include refined grains, sweetened beverages, and red and processed meats. These foods tend to trigger inflammation.
Foods like whole grains and dark, leafy green vegetables score low on the inflammatory scale and are not associated with colon cancer risk (Harvard Health Publishing).
Colonoscopy Exams Prevent Colon Cancer
Besides eating a healthy diet and exercising daily, you can prevent colon cancer by scheduling a colonoscopy. A colonoscopy is the only colon cancer screening that detects and prevents colon cancer. During the exam, your gastroenterologist will examine the entire colon for precancerous polyps and remove them before they become cancerous. No other colon screening offers the diagnostic and therapeutic benefits of a colonoscopy.
The American Cancer Society recommends all adults who are at average risk for colon cancer begin screening at age 45. Individuals with a family history of the disease or who exhibit certain risk factors may need to get screened earlier. Talk to your doctor about when you should get your first colonoscopy. One test could save your life.