One simple drink a day could be the key to avoiding bowel cancer

If you needed another reason to drink several coffees each day then you might just have one. This new medical study has researchers from the US and Israel recommending that coffee, even decaffeinated, may lower the risk of colorectal caner when consumed every day.

Colorectal cancer, more commonly known as bowel cancer, is one of the most widespread cancers in the western world.
It is the second most common cancer in both Australia and the US, and is more prevalent in people over 50.

But according to this latest research, our risk of getting colorectal cancer might be halved if we partake in more than 2.5 servings of coffee daily. The research shows that coffee could have a protective effect against the disease.

Dr. Stephen Gruber, of the University of Southern California (USC) Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, and colleagues analysed the data of 5,145 individuals who had been diagnosed with colorectal cancer, alongside 4,097 people who did not have the disease.

All participants were part of the Molecular Epidemiology of Colorectal Cancer (MECC) study, which is a population-based, case-control study conducted in northern Israel.

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As part of the study, which was featured in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, the subjects of the research were required to complete a food frequency questionnaire, detailing their daily intake of espresso, instant, decaffeinated and filter coffee, as well as their daily consumption of other beverages.

The participants also completed a questionnaire that disclosed information on family history of cancer, diet, physical activity levels, smoking habits and other factors that may affect their risk of colorectal cancer.

The researchers found that drinking one to two servings of coffee a day – defined as moderate coffee consumption – reduced the risk of colorectal cancer by 26%, compared with participants who drank less coffee.

And the risk reduced even further with an increase in coffee intake; participants who consumed more than 2.5 servings of coffee daily had up to a 50% lower risk of colorectal cancer.

Not only did these findings remain after accounting for known colorectal cancer risk factors, but the researchers also found that the reduced risk was seen across all coffee types – even decaffeinated, according to Medical News Today.

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“We were somewhat surprised to see that caffeine did not seem to matter,” says Dr. Gruber. “This indicates that caffeine alone is not responsible for coffee’s protective properties.”

Bowel cancer is known to develop from the inner lining of the bowel and is preceded by growths called polyps, which may become invasive cancer if undetected.

In 2012, 14,957 new cases of bowel cancer were diagnosed in Australia and 95,000 new cases of colon cancer and 39,000 new cases of rectal cancer are expected to be diagnosed in the US this year also.  The American Cancer Society state that the lifetime risk of developing colorectal cancer is 1 in 21 for men and 1 in 23 for women.  The risk of being diagnosed by age 85 is 1 in 11 for men and 1 in 15 for women.

Still, Dr. Gruber says further research is needed but is enthusiastic that coffee is a good 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.”

How many cups a day do you have?