Coffee May Be a Shield Against Recurring Cancer, Study Suggests

Written by Camilla Jessen

Apr.04 - 2024 6:30 PM CET

Coffee drinkers among cancer patients appear to live longer, though the study comes with caveats.

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With over 2 billion cups of coffee consumed worldwide each day, coffee is an indispensable part of daily life for many. Its popularity is largely attributed to its flavor and stimulating effects, but researchers now present another compelling reason to enjoy this beloved beverage.

An international study, analyzing the habits of 1,719 colon cancer patients, suggests that regular coffee consumption might not just perk up your morning but could also offer a protective shield against cancer recurrence.

A Closer Look at the Study's Findings

Delving into the relationship between coffee intake and cancer, the study uncovered that patients indulging in at least two cups of filter coffee daily had a reduced risk of their cancer returning. The magic number, however, appeared to be five cups, with these individuals experiencing a 32% lower risk compared to those who drank less or none.

Beyond the implications for recurrence, the research pointed to a significant trend: higher coffee consumption correlated with increased survival rates among the participants.

"We hope the result is real, as it appears to be dose-dependent. The more coffee consumed, the greater the effect," Ellen Kampman, the lead author and a professor of nutrition and disease at Wageningen University, shared with The Guardian.

A Potion or a Placebo?

This observational study, while promising, carries the usual caveats. It identifies a correlation without proving causation, meaning other factors might also be at play in the observed trends. Despite this, the dose-dependent nature of the findings has researchers hopeful and curious about the underlying mechanisms.

Coffee's roster of biologically active compounds, including its antioxidant properties, is under scrutiny as a potential factor in this cancer-fighting capability.

"Coffee contains hundreds of biologically active compounds that may be protective against colon cancer," explained Marc Gunter, a co-author and professor of cancer epidemiology at Imperial College London.

The intrigue deepens as the study does not differentiate between the effects of various coffee beans or brewing methods.

Whether espresso, French press, or filter coffee holds the key to these benefits remains a topic for further investigation. Previous research has linked coffee consumption to reduced inflammation and insulin levels, conditions that can elevate colon cancer risks if unchecked. Additionally, coffee's protective streak might extend beyond colon cancer, hinting at potential benefits against other conditions like type 2 diabetes, Parkinson's disease, and even blood clots.

Coffee: A Double-Edged Sword

However, coffee's story isn't without its complexities.

  • Affects the brain: Small amounts of caffeine can improve mood, memory, and attention. Too much can make you irritable and sleepless. Caffeine molecules bind to the same receptors as the substance adenosin, which signals tiredness.

  • Raises blood pressure: Large amounts of coffee release dopamine, keeping you energetic and active. It boosts fat burning and can improve performance by up to 12% – but also leads to higher blood pressure.

  • Controls appetite: Coffee can have a slimming effect by reducing appetite and possibly also the intestinal absorption of carbohydrates. However, it also increases the production of stomach acid.

Coffee's impact varies widely among individuals, with excessive consumption potentially leading to increased irritability, sleeplessness, and elevated blood pressure. It also emphasizes the need for balance and moderation in consumption.

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