There is a great deal of evidence to support an association between dietary intake and incidence and mortality of colorectal cancer, [van Zutphen et al., 2017 & Kerr et al., 2017 as cited in reference I]. Coffee intake offers a practical lifestyle factor to further explore–a 2004 study found coffee to be the largest source of consumption of dietary antioxidants in the United States [Svilaas et al., 2004 as cited in reference i]. In the below study, the authors look at coffee intake and survival in individuals with advanced or metastatic colorectal cancer.
Association of Coffee Intake with Survival in Patients with Advanced or Metastatic Colorectal Cancer
Journal: JAMA Oncology
This prospective cohort study included 1171 participants with locally advanced or metastatic colorectal cancer from the phase 3 clinical trial Cancer and Leukemia Group B (Alliance)/SWOG 80405. Participants completed food frequency questionnaires within one month of enrollment, from the years 2005 to 2018. Questions considered caffeinated coffee and decaffeinated coffee independently, with options ranging from intake of never to at least 6 cups per day. Consumption of total coffee in cups per day, as well as consumption of caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee in cups per day were studied. Main outcomes were overall survival and progression-free survival [i].
The authors found:
1. Increased coffee intake was associated with decreased risk of cancer progression and death
2. Those with intake of 2-3 cups of coffee per day had an improved overall survival (18% reduction in mortality) and progression-free survival (18% reduction in progression) compared to those who did not drink coffee
3. Those with intake of at least 4 cups of coffee per day had a further improvement in overall survival (36% reduction in mortality) and progression-free survival (22% reduction in progression) compared to those who did not drink coffee
4. Significant associations were found for both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee intake
5. The association between increased coffee intake and improved overall survival was stronger in those with a BMI of less than 25.0 kg/m2 compared to those with a BMI of 25.0 kg/m2 or higher
6. The association between increased coffee intake and improved progression-free survival was stronger in female participants [i]
For the Patient and Caregiver
Coffee intake, whether caffeinated or decaf, may provide a benefit to individuals with advanced or metastatic colorectal cancer. For more research on coffee intake and cancer, take a look at this article on debunking myths and this article on polyphenol intake. Consider if coffee is a part of your daily routine, as it may be an appropriate addition. Lastly, keep in mind the importance of aiming for an eating pattern rich in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and legumes, nuts, and seeds.
For the Healthcare Team
Coffee’s possible anticancer effects may be related to its influence on the insulin pathway, as it increases insulin sensitivity [Shi et al., 2016, Hang et al., 2019, & Wu et al., 2005 as cited in reference i]. It also may be related to antioxidant properties of coffee, which may slow the development of certain cancers. More research is needed in this area to better understand the biological mechanisms behind coffee consumption. A standardized recommendation for coffee consumption may be appropriate with additional research in the future.
[i] Mackintosh C, Yuan C, Ou FS, Zhang S, Niedzwiecki D, Chang IW…Ng K. (2020). Association of coffee intake with survival in patients with advanced or metastatic colorectal cancer. JAMA Oncology, E1-E9. doi:10.1001/jamaoncol.2020.3938