Study Says Caffeinated Coffee May Improve Colon Cancer Treatment

Colon cancer patients who drank coffee were less likely to have their disease come back.

A new study from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute says something you most likely drink every day—coffee—may improve colon cancer treatment and survival rates.

The study, which tracked the diets of 1,000 colon cancer patients throughout their treatment process, found that people who drank four or more cups of caffeinated coffee each day were about 42 percent less likely to have their cancer return after treatment than non-coffee drinkers, and 33 percent less likely to die from the disease. People who drank two or three cups a day had slightly better odds, but consuming one cup didn’t seem to make a difference.

Charles Fuchs, the study’s lead researcher and the director of Dana-Farber’s Gastrointestinal Cancer Center, noted that caffeine is probably to thank for the better results, not the other components of coffee. That’s likely because caffeine may reduce insulin sensitivity and inflammation, which are risk factors for colon cancer.

Despite the promising results, Fuchs cautioned that it’s too soon to develop a caffeine habit based on the study’s findings. “If you are a coffee drinker and are being treated for colon cancer, don’t stop,” Fuchs said in a statement. “But if you’re not a coffee drinker and wondering whether to start, you should first discuss it with your physician.”

While this study was specific to colon cancer—and though the medical community is notoriously undecided about whether java is good or bad for your health—coffee has also been linked to prevention of breast, skin, liver, and prostate cancer in the past, as well as lower rates of depression.