Patients treated for colon cancer who regularly drank caffeinated coffee had lower rates of cancer recurrence and mortality, according to a recent study co-authored by Northwestern Medicine investigator Al B. Benson, III, MD.
The study, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, involved 953 patients who participated in a clinical trial comparing two treatments for stage 3 colon cancer. While no significant difference between the therapies was found, data from questionnaires the patients filled out about their diets as they underwent treatment provided compelling insights.
Following up a median of seven years after patients completed the questionnaires, the investigators determined that those who had consumed four or more cups of coffee a day were 42 percent less likely to have their cancer return compared to non-coffee drinkers, and they were 33 percent less likely to die from cancer or any other cause.
“There has been a great deal of interest in looking at diet and lifestyle factors as prevention strategies for colorectal cancer,” said Dr. Benson, professor of Hematology/Oncology in the Department of Medicine. “It seemed that if these factors might contribute to an increased or decreased risk of developing colon cancer, it would be wise to study these factors for people who already have cancer, too.”