Coffee drinking confers benefits in cancer study

Wednesday, 23 September, 2020

Coffee drinking confers benefits in cancer study

Daily coffee consumption has been associated with improved survival in patients with metastatic colorectal cancer, according to a study led by Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Results from the large observational study, published in JAMA Oncology, support earlier studies showing a connection between regular coffee consumption and improved outcomes in patients with non-metastatic colorectal cancer.

Of the 1171 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. Participants who drank larger amounts of coffee — more than four cups a day — had an even greater benefit in these measures. The benefits were observed for caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee.

The study findings establish an association, but not a cause-and-effect relationship, between coffee drinking and reduced risk of cancer progression and death among participants. For this reason, the researchers commented that, at this point, the study doesn’t provide sufficient grounds for recommending that people with advanced or metastatic colorectal cancer start drinking coffee on a daily basis or increase their consumption of the drink.

“Although it is premature to recommend a high intake of coffee as a potential treatment for colorectal cancer, our study suggests that drinking coffee is not harmful and may potentially be beneficial,” Dana-Farber senior author Kimmie Ng said.

“This study adds to the large body of literature supporting the importance of diet and other modifiable factors in the treatment of patients with colorectal cancer.

“Further research is needed to determine if there is indeed a causal connection between coffee consumption and improved outcomes in patients with colorectal cancer, and precisely which compounds within coffee are responsible for this benefit.”

Dana-Farber researcher Chen Yuan said, “It’s known that several compounds in coffee have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and other properties that may be active against cancer.

“Epidemiological studies have found that higher coffee intake was associated with improved survival in patients with stage 3 colon cancer, but the relationship between coffee consumption and survival in patients with metastatic forms of the disease hasn’t been known.”

The study used data from the Alliance/SWOG 80405 study, a phase 3 clinical trial comparing the addition of cetuximab and/or bevacizumab 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 enrolment. Researchers correlated this data with information on the course of the cancer after treatment.

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