Drinking coffee linked to better survival in colorectal cancer patients, Dana Farber research shows

Getting a daily coffee fix could provide more than just a caffeine boost — it has been linked to better survival and lower risk of disease progression in metastatic colorectal cancer patients, new research from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute shows.

“Diet and lifestyle factors are strongly linked to both the risk of developing colorectal cancer as well as survival,” said Dr. Kimmie Ng, director of the Young-Onset Colorectal Cancer Center at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Ng and her colleagues found that in a large group of patients with metastatic colorectal cancer, drinking a few cups of coffee a day — decaf or regular — was associated with longer survival and a lower risk of the cancer worsening.

“We were excited, actually, to see the results, and it does seem to show a dose response effect,” said Ng, meaning the more coffee consumed, upwards of more than four cups, the greater impact on survival.

In more than 1,000 patients treated for metastatic colorectal cancer, those who reported drinking two to three cups of coffee a day were likely to live longer overall, and had a longer time before their disease worsened, than those who didn’t drink coffee, according to the study published in JAMA Oncology.

The findings fall in line with earlier studies showing a connection between regular coffee consumption and improved outcomes in patients with non-metastatic colorectal cancer.

The new study drew on data from a Phase 3 clinical trial comparing the addition of certain drugs to standard chemotherapy in patients with previously untreated, locally advanced or metastatic colorectal cancer.

As part of the trial, participants reported their dietary intake, including coffee consumption, on a questionnaire at the time of enrollment.

Ng said coffee has antioxidants along with anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties.

The study results are encouraging, but don’t yet provide sufficient evidence to recommend coffee consumption to people with advanced or metastatic colorectal cancer, Ng said.

“I will be telling my patients that if they are already coffee drinkers, our study can reassure them that it is not harmful and it might be beneficial,” Ng said.

Ng said coffee also has the potential to help other patients, “I do think that other people are looking at the benefits of coffee for a variety of different diseases including cancer, cardiovascular disease and including diabetes.”

In 2020, there will be an estimated 104,610 new cases of colon cancer and 43,340 cases of rectal cancer diagnosed
in the United States, and an estimated 53,200 will die from the disease, according to the American Cancer Society.

The risk of getting the cancer is 1 in 23 for men and 1 in 25 for women.

Screening for colorectal cancer is an excellent and important prevention tool that that adults ages 45 years and older should undergo.



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