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Daily coffee may improve survival in colon cancer

By Caroline Leopold     Aug 22, 2015 in Health
Daily drinking of coffee may help prevent colon cancer recurrence and improve the chances of a cure, said researchers at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute based on the results of a new, large study announced this week.
The conclusion that drinking coffee regularly may prevent the return of colon cancer is a striking result from a study that looked at diet and colon cancer.
"We found that coffee drinkers had a lower risk of the cancer coming back and a significantly greater survival and chance of a cure," said Dr. Charles Fuchs, director of Gastrointestinal Cancer Center, in Dana-Farber news release.
The study enrolled 953 patients who had been treated with surgery and chemotherapy for stage III colon cancer. Patients filled out an eating habits survey early in the study and after six months of treatment.
Patients drinking four or more cups of coffee were about 40 percent less likely to die from colon cancer than patients drinking no coffee, according to study results. Drinking two or three cups of coffee had a more modest benefit.
Four cups of coffee have roughly 400 milligrams of caffeine.
The study was an association study, which means that coffee drinking is only related to cancer recurrence and not a direct cause. The study is only suggestive of a relationship of coffee drinking and colon cancer and the study design has limits in the information it offers individual patients.
"If you are a coffee drinker and are being treated for colon cancer, don't stop," Fuchs said. "But if you're not a coffee drinker and wondering whether to start, you should first discuss it with your physician."
The study results are published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.
Fuchs said the results is the first time that a relationship between regular coffee and the return of colon cancer have been found. Other recent studies have found that coffee may protect against other kinds of cancer including, breast cancer, melanoma, liver cancer, and advanced prostate cancer.
The researchers say that coffee may improve insulin sensitivity, which is related to type 2 diabetes risk, and may reduce colon cancer recurrence. Obesity is a known risk factor for colon cancer.
"Excess energy balance refers to taking in more calories than are expended," first author Dr. Brendan Guercio told Medscape Medical News. This imbalance occurs often when people take in too many calories and not exercise enough, which leads to obesity and chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes.
Other than drinking coffee, Fuchs said, people can eat a balanced diet and exercise regularly, which fight type 2 diabetes and also may reduce colon cancer risk.
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