A new study reveals that even decaf seems to lessen the risk of colorectal cancer, and the more you drink, the better.
If you follow the advice of science in determining what’s healthy and what's not, quite frankly it’s a bit confusing. Especially when it comes to things like, say, wine and fat and coffee (you know, the good things!). It’s like watching a tennis match with the head flipping back and forth between studies condemning and extolling their consumption.
So I’m not even sure where we stand at the moment in terms of coffee – I’ve reported on so many studies with so many various conclusions. But if you’re looking for encouragement that your daily intake of joe is A-OK, then you’ve got the green light with news from the University of Southern California (USC) Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center of Keck Medicine, where researchers have found that coffee consumption decreases the risk of colorectal cancer.
The study looked at over 5,100 men and women who had been diagnosed with colorectal cancer within the past six months, in addition to another 4,000 people with no history of colorectal cancer for the control group. The sets tallied their their daily coffee drinking, including espresso, instant, decaffeinated and filtered coffee. Many other factors that influence the risk of colorectal cancer were also calculated, including family history of cancer, diet, physical activity and smoking.
"We found that drinking coffee is associated with lower risk of colorectal cancer, and the more coffee consumed, the lower the risk," says Stephen Gruber, director of the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center and senior author of the study.
The study revealed that even light coffee drinking, between one to two servings a day, was linked to a 26 percent reduction in the odds of developing colorectal cancer after adjusting for known risk factors.
And even more surprising (or encouraging for people who really love their coffee) was that the risk of developing colorectal cancer decrease even further, up to 50 percent, for those who drank more than 2.5 servings of coffee per day. And decreased risk was noted with all types of coffee, caffeinated and decaffeinated.
"We were somewhat surprised to see that caffeine did not seem to matter," Gruber says. "This indicates that caffeine alone is not responsible for coffee's protective properties."
Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer that is diagnosed in both men and women in the United States. The American Cancer Society estimates that in the United States, over 95,000 new cases of colon cancer and 39,000 new cases of rectal cancer will be diagnosed in 2016.
So is a daily cup (or two ... or more) a potential preventative course for this vexing disease?
"While the evidence certainly suggests this to be the case, we need additional research before advocating for coffee consumption as a preventive measure," says Gruber. “That being said, there are few health risks to coffee consumption, I would encourage coffee lovers to revel in the strong possibility that their daily mug may lower their risk of colorectal cancer."
(As with most things, talk to your healthcare provider before embarking on a coffee binge – and listen to your body as well. And if caffeine leaves you jittery, embrace the decaf.)
The study was published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, a publication of the American Association of Cancer Research.