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Drinking Coffee Tied to Better Outcomes in Colon Cancer Patients

In people with advanced colorectal cancer, drinking coffee was associated with longer survival and less cancer progression.

Nicholas Bakalar, The New York Times, Sep 22, 2020

Drinking coffee may extend survival time in people with colorectal cancer, a new study suggests.

Researchers studied 1,171 patients diagnosed with advanced or metastatic colon or rectal cancer who could not be treated with surgery. The patients completed diet and lifestyle questionnaires, including information about their coffee consumption, at the start the study.

Compared with people who drank none, those who drank a cup a day had an 11 percent increased rate of overall survival, and a 5 percent increased rate of living progression-free. The more coffee they drank, the better. Those who drank four or more cups a day had a 36 percent increased rate of overall survival and a 22 percent increased rate of surviving without their disease getting worse. Whether the coffee was decaf or regular made little difference.

The study, in JAMA Oncology, controlled for race, smoking, alcohol intake, aspirin use, diabetes, and the addition of milk, nondairy creamers or sweeteners to the coffee.

The co-lead author, Christopher Mackintosh, a fourth-year medical student at the Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine, emphasized that drinking coffee is not a cure or treatment for cancer. “If a patient already drinks coffee,” he said, “they should feel fine about it. They won’t harm themselves. But I would not suggest that people begin drinking coffee to try to treat or prevent cancer.”

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