Drinking more than four cups of coffee a day was linked to a lower risk of colorectal cancer recurrence as well as reduced mortality, according to study results published in the International Journal of Cancer.

Previous studies have linked coffee consumption to a lower risk of developing colon cancer, but whether the beverage affects disease progression, relapse or death is not well understood.

Abisola Oyelere, MSc, of Wageningen University and Research in the Netherlands, and colleagues sought to better establish the relationship between coffee consumption and colorectal cancer recurrence and all-cause mortality.

The researchers analyzed prospective cohort data from 1,719 people with Stage I to Stage III colorectal cancer in the Netherlands. At the time of their diagnosis, the participants provided information on their coffee drinking habits and other lifestyle factors using a self-reported questionnaire. The researchers accessed data on cancer recurrence and all-cause mortality from the Netherlands Cancer Registry and the Personal Records Database.

Analyzing all the data, the study authors identified 257 cases of colorectal cancer recurrence over 6.2 years of follow-up and 309 deaths from any cause over 6.6 years of follow-up.

Drinking more than four cups of coffee a day was associated with a 32% lower risk of colon cancer recurrence when compared to drinking less than two cups a day. Three to five cups a day was the optimal amount to lower the risk of all-cause death among people with colon cancer; those who drank either more or less coffee had higher mortality. However, no clear link was observed between coffee consumption and colon cancer progression.

“This large prospective study of Stage I to III patients in a country with a relatively high coffee intake revealed a strong inverse association between coffee consumption and colorectal cancer recurrence,” wrote the researchers. “The findings could potentially inform future intervention studies as well as dietary guidelines for colorectal cancer patients.”

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