Coffee could help prevent colon cancer return
Drinking several cups of coffee every day could help prevent the return of colon cancer after treatment, claims a new US study.
Patients in the study by the Boston-based Dana-Farber Cancer Institute benefitted from drinking 4 cups of coffee a day – the equivalent of 460 milligrams of caffeine.
Lower chance of cancer returning
The research team asked nearly 1,000 patients to provide information on their diet during chemotherapy and around a year later.
They found those who drank 4 cups of coffee have a 42% lower chance of the cancer returning after treatment than those who didn’t drink coffee.
They were also found to have a 33% lower chance of dying from cancer or any other causes.
The study, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, found drinking 2 to 3 cups has some benefits while drinking just a single cup has little effect.
The positive effect is caused solely by the caffeine, not other components in coffee, the study found.
While the team is not certain why caffeine has this effect, it says caffeine can increase the body's sensitivity to insulin, meaning less is needed. This helps reduce inflammation - a risk factor for cancer.
Search for a cure
Charles Fuchs, director of the Gastrointestinal Cancer Centre at the Institute, says the findings can help in the search for a cure.
The study was the first to look at the connection between colon cancer and coffee, though other studies claim coffee can protect against several types of cancer.
Fuchs and his team looked at coffee because of studies showing it can reduce the risk of type-2 diabetes.
A number of the risk factors associated with diabetes - obesity, a high-calorie diet and high levels of insulin - are also connected to colon cancer.
More studies needed
While the results were encouraging, Fuchs urges patients not to consider it as a treatment just yet.
He says people who have suffered colon-cancer and are regular coffee drinkers should feel free to continue.
But if they are not coffee-drinkers, they should consult with their doctors before adding it to their diet.
Fuchs also says there are various other measures people can take to reduce their cancer risks likes exercising regularly, eating more healthily and eating more nuts.