Coffee Linked to Reduced Recurrence, Death in Late-Stage Colon Cancer

Consumption of four or more cups of coffee a day was associated with a reduced risk for colon cancer recurrence and death in patients with stage III disease.

Consumption of four or more cups of coffee a day was associated with a reduced risk for colon cancer recurrence and death in a group of patients with stage III disease, a new study has found.

In addition, researchers led by Charles S. Fuchs, MD, MPH, of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, reported increased coffee intake was also associated with improved disease-free, recurrence-free, and overall survival, and that these associations occurred independently of other predictors of outcome, diet, and lifestyle factors.

“Although our observational study does not offer conclusive evidence for causality, our findings potentially inform colon cancer biology and offer further insight into the role of diet and lifestyle in outcome for patients with colon cancer. Further studies are needed to confirm our findings,” Fuchs and colleagues wrote in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

For the study, Fuchs and colleagues evaluated prospectively reported dietary intake of caffeinated coffee, decaffeinated coffee, and nonherbal tea taken from 953 patients with stage III colon cancer during and 6 months after adjuvant chemotherapy.

“We hypothesized that coffee might reduce colon cancer recurrence through improved insulin sensitization and decreased hyperinsulinemia, on the basis of previous studies supporting the role of high-energy balance states in promoting colon cancer recurrence and mortality and studies demonstrating an inverse relationship between coffee consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes,” the researchers wrote.

During the study period, 329 patients had cancer recurrence or new primary tumors and 288 patients died. Results of the analysis showed that consumption of four or more cups of caffeinated coffee a day reduced recurrence and mortality by almost half compared with never consuming coffee (hazard ratio [HR], 0.58 [95% confidence interval (CI), 0.34–0.99]; P for trend = .002) and compared with abstaining from coffee (HR, 0.48 [95% CI, 0.25–0.91]; P for trend = .002).

“Increasing total coffee intake was also associated with a significant improvement in overall survival (P for trend = .008) and a trend toward improved recurrence-free survival that did not reach statistical significance (P for trend = .06),” the researchers wrote. “These results were largely unchanged when further adjusted for sugar-sweetened beverage intake and glycemic load (disease-free survival, P for trend = .002; recurrence-free survival, P for trend = .07; overall survival, P for trend = .01).”

The researchers noted that they cannot rule out the possibility that the association seen between coffee consumption and improved disease-free survival resulted from confounding variables. However, analyses showed that these associations persisted even after they adjusted for physical activity, dietary glycemic load, sugar-sweetened beverage intake, and Western and prudent dietary patterns.

No link with improved survival outcomes was found for decaffeinated coffee or nonherbal tea.