April 15, 2024

People with bowel cancer who drink two to four cups of coffee a day are much less likely to see their disease come back, research has found.

People with the disease who consume that amount are also much less likely to die from any cause, the study shows, suggesting that coffee helps those diagnosed with the UK’s second biggest cancer killer.

Experts said the findings were “promising” and speculated that if other studies show the same effect, the 43,000 Britons a year diagnosed with bowel cancer could be encouraged to drink coffee. The disease claims approximately 16,500 lives per year – 45 per day.

A study of 1,719 colon cancer patients in the Netherlands by Dutch and British researchers found that those who drank at least two cups of coffee had a lower risk of the disease recurring. The effect was dose-dependent – ​​those who drank the most saw their risk drop the most.

Patients who had at least five cups a day were 32% less likely than those who drank less than two cups to see their bowel cancer return, according to the paper, which was funded by the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) and was published in the International Journal of Cancer.

Similarly, higher levels of coffee consumption also appear to be closely linked to one’s chances of survival.

Again, those who drank at least two cups daily had a lower risk of dying compared to those who did not. And, as with the risk of recurrence, those who had at least five cups saw their likelihood of dying drop the most — by 29%.

People in the UK drink an estimated 95 million cups of coffee a day.

Research team leader Dr Ellen Kampman, a professor of nutrition and disease at Wageningen University in the Netherlands, said the disease returned in one in five people diagnosed with it and could be fatal.

“It is interesting that this study suggests that drinking three to four cups of coffee can reduce the recurrence of colon cancer.”

However, she stressed the team found a strong link between regular coffee consumption and the disease rather than a causal link between them.

“However, we are hopeful that the finding is real because it appears to be dose-dependent – the more coffee is drunk, the greater the effect,” she added.

The study is the latest to show that coffee reduce cancer risk. There is already strong evidence that it lowers the risk of liver and uterine cancer and some evidence that it does the same for mouth, pharynx, larynx and skin cancer. It is also already associated with a lower risk of developing bowel cancer.

Prof Marc Gunter, a co-author of the study and chair in cancer epidemiology and prevention in the school of public health at Imperial College London, said the findings were “very challenging as we don’t really understand why coffee so would not have an effect in bowel cancer patients”.

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He added: “But they are also promising because they may point to a way to improve prognosis and survival among bowel cancer patients.

“Coffee contains hundreds of biologically active compounds that have antioxidative properties and can protect against colon cancer.

“Coffee also lowers inflammation and insulin levels – which are linked to colon cancer development and progression – and may have potentially beneficial effects on the gut microbiome.

“However, we need more research to delve deeper into the biology of why coffee may have such an effect on bowel cancer prognosis and survival.”

The WCRF identified chlorogenic acid, which is also found in kale, as an agent that may provide an important part of the explanation because of its role in managing the body’s glucose levels and regulating insulin levels.

Coffee’s emergence as a potential protector against cancer is remarkable because the World Health Organization classified it as “possibly carcinogenic” until 2016. before he changes his mind because the evidence did not exist to support it.

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