Are There Positive Benefits For Colon Cancer Sufferers Who Drink Coffee?

Colon cancer awareness poster. Blue ribbon made of dots on white background.
colon cancer awareness. naumas / stock photo

Are there positive benefits for colon cancer sufferers who drink coffee? Coffee is frequently assessed in both health and nutrition terms for its numerous benefits primarily from caffeine. Generally in the USA, around three cups of coffee are consumed a day, with 54% of Americans over the age of 18 consuming coffee daily. It is such a popular beverage that it’s not surprising it is the subject of extensive research as well as popular writers on nutrition.

Drinking coffee. Photo by Stuart Miles, courtesy of
Drinking coffee. Photo by Stuart Miles, courtesy of

It is especially interesting for its association with decreasing the risk of type 2 diabetes and improving sensitivity to insulin. A study in the Journal of Clinical Oncology has just shown that frequently drinking coffee may help those who suffer from colon cancer. Coffee, especially if it contains caffeine is claimed to significantly reduce the risk of this deadly disease and even death.

Scientists in the Gastrointestinal Cancer Center at Boston’s Dana-Farber Institute observed 953 patients who first received their chemotherapy back in 1999 to 2001 and who filled in dietary pattern questionnaires. They recorded their drinking of both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee, non-herbal teas and other products over six months during and following their chemotherapy. They found 460mg of caffeine which is equivalent to drinking about four cups of coffee daily, appears to give great benefit, especially for patients with stage III colon cancer. The benefits were not as strong for those drinking less cups of coffee but it was better than abstaining from it.

In terms of figures, patients consuming the appropriate amount of caffeine were 42% less likely to have return of their cancer compared to those who didn’t drink it. Likewise, caffeine drinkers were 34% less likely to die from cancer or from any other cause apparently. Cancer recurrence and patient death rates were followed for an average of a little more than seven years. Cancer certainly returned for 329 people, within five years of their initial treatment. Of these, 288 died of their disease and an additional 36 people who didn’t have a diagnosis of a cancer recurrence also died during the study follow-up.

Coffee. Photo by amenic181, courtesy of
Coffee. Photo by amenic181, courtesy of

It appears those who drank less caffeine had the same health benefits as those drinking the right amount but to a lesser degree. The lead author and Director for the Center, Dr. Charles Fuchs referred to the fact that whilst there were many factors in diet and lifestyle to positively impact in terms of reducing the risk of developing colon cancer, there was independent evidence concerning caffeinated coffee to improve the outcomes of those suffering colon cancer. The study however did not claim that coffee per se reduced the risk of this cancer because the study was observational only and wasn’t set up to determine a cause and effect relationship. The mechanism is just unknown but it may be the case that if caffeine consumption increases insulin sensitivity, then less insulin is needed which reduces one of the risk factors for both cancer and diabetes as inflammation is likely to be less. Clearly further research is needed to understand more fully the effects.


Guercio, B.J. et al. (2015) J Clin Oncol.  doi: 10.1200/JCO.2015.61.5062.

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1 Comment

  1. Hi I,ve often wondered about coffee as I drink loads. I have heard it helps with energy but does it cause arthritis ?

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