Whether you are partial to an espresso, latte or cappuccino, the message is to drink up.
It may sound like music to coffee lovers’ ears the world over, but scientists say doing so could lower a person’s risk of cancer.
A new study has shown the humble cup of coffee reduces the chances of colorectal cancer – bowel and rectal cancers.
And, the news gets better – for the more you drink, the lower your risk, scientists at the University of South California said today.
Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed in both men and women in the United States, with nearly five per cent of men and just over four per cent of women developing the disease over their lifetime.
Moderate coffee consumption of one to two cups a day lowers a person’s risk of colorectal cancer by 26 per cent, a new study has revealed. But, drink more than two cups a day, and a person’s risk continues to fall, up to 50 percent
The American Cancer Society estimates that in the US, more than 95,000 new cases of colon cancer and 39,000 new cases of rectal cancer will be diagnosed in this year alone.
Researchers examined more than 5,100 men and women who had been diagnosed with the disease within the past six months.
To act as a control group, they also recruited 4,000 men and women who had no history of colorectal cancer.
Participants reported their daily consumption of espresso, instant coffee, decaffinated and filtered coffee, as well as their total consumption of other drinks.
A questionnaire also gathered information about many other factors that influence the risk of the disease – including family history of cancer, diet, physical activity and smoking.
Senior author of the study, Dr Stephen Gruber, said: ‘We found that drinking coffee is associated with lower risk of colorectal cancer, and the more coffee consumed, the lower the risk.;
Their findings showed that even moderate coffee consumption – defined as one to two servings a day – was linked to a 26 per cent reduction in the odds of developing the disease, after adjusting for other known risk factors.
Moreover, the risk continued to decline to up to 50 per cent, when participants drank more than two-and-a-half cups of coffee a day.
There was no difference between caffeinated and decaffeinated blends, suggesting another compound in coffee helps boost a person’s colorectal health
And the decreased risk was seen across all types of coffee, both caffeinated and decaffeinated, researchers noted.
Dr Gruber said: ‘We were somewhat surprised to see that caffeine did not seem to matter.
‘This indicates that caffeine alone is not responsible for coffee’s protective properties.’
Coffee contains many elements that contribute to overall colorectal health, he said, which may explain the drink’s protective properties.
Caffeine and polyphenol can act as antioxidants, limiting the growth of potential colon cancer cells.
Experts have suggested melanoidins, generated during the roasting process, encourage colon mobility.
And diterpenes are also thought to help prevent cancer by preventing the body’s defense against oxidative damage.
First author, Dr Stephanie Schmit, said: ‘The levels of beneficial compounds per serving of coffee vary depending on the bean, roast and brewing method.
‘The good news is that our data presents a decreased risk of colorectal cancer regardless of what flavor or form of coffee you prefer.’
This extensive study was conducted by a research team led by Dr Gad Rennert of the Clalit National Israeli Cancer Control Center in Israel, together with USC.
Dr Rennert said: ‘Although coffee consumption in Israel is less common and with more type-variability than in the US, our results indicate similarities in risk reduction with use consumption of various types of coffee.’
Dr Gruber added: ‘While the evidence certainly suggests this to be the case, we need additional research before advocating for coffee consumption as a preventative measure.
‘That being said, there are few health risks to coffee consumption, I would encourage coffee lovers to revel in the strong possibility that their daily mug may lower their risk of colorectal cancer.’
The study is published today in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention, published by the American Association of Cancer Research.