Bowel cancer: Coffee drinkers who have four cups a day much less likely to die or see illness recur

By Staff 7 Min Read

People who have had bowel cancer are much less likely to see it return if they drink four or more cups of coffee a day, a study has found, while coffee drinkers are also less likely to die from it

Coffee drinkers who have four cups a day are at a much lower risk of bowel cancer returning, a study has found.

Bowel cancer – including the colon – is the fourth most common cancer in the UK and the second most deadliest. How serious it is depends on how big is the tumour, whether it has spread and your overall health.

Screening means that it can be picked up earlier and possibly easier to treat. It’s not always known what causes bowel cancer, but it can be caused by genetic changes, lifestyle, and environmental factors, states the NHS.

Coffee drinking has been associated with a reduced risk of developing bowel cancer and now a study suggests that it is also much less likely to reoccur – while the more consumed also improves a person’s chance of it not coming back. And people who drink four cups of coffee a day are also less likely to die from the disease. Experts have said that the study’s findings are promising and that it is possible that in the future Brits could be encouraged to drink coffee to reduce their chances of bowel cancer.

Bowel cancer patients were studied in the Netherlands by Dutch and UK researchers with 1,719 taking part. It was found that those who drank at least two cups of coffee had a reduced chance of the disease coming back . And patients who had at least four cups of coffee were found to have a 32% reduced likelihood of having bowel cancer again, compared to those who had fewer than two cups, according to the research that was supported by the World Cancer Research Fund. Similarly for fatalities, people who had at least two cups of coffee had a lower risk of dying – and those who had at least four cups saw their likelihood of dying fall by 29%.

“People who have had bowel cancer who drink more than four cups of coffee per day have a lower risk of the cancer recurring than those who have two or fewer cups,” stated the WCRF.

“Of 540 patients who reported drinking more than four cups of coffee per day, 73 (13.5%) experienced cancer recurrence. This is significantly lower than those who drank fewer than two cups per day, (89 out of 499 or 17.8%). In addition, relatively fewer of those who reported drinking more coffee have died since their diagnosis, with the lowest all-cause mortality at around four cups per day.”

Prof Ellen Kampman, Professor of Nutrition and Disease at Wageningen University and Research in the Netherlands, who led the research said: People diagnosed with bowel cancer are living longer than before. Unfortunately, in about 20% of those treated the disease returns and can be fatal. So, it is intriguing that this study suggests drinking 3–4 cups of coffee may reduce the recurrence of bowel cancer.

We are now doing further research to confirm the effect we are seeing is causative rather than simply an association. We are hopeful, however, that the finding is real because it appears to be dose dependent – the more coffee drunk, the greater the effect. This has been previously supported by other, though smaller, studies.

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