If you can’t live without your morning cup of joe, you’re not alone. More than half of all Americans drink coffee daily. But how healthy is it for you? Coffee has actually been shown to reduce the risks of certain chronic diseases, but the effects of coffee on developing colorectal cancer have been unclear. A large prospective study from Finland recently published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found coffee drinking did not affect one’s risk of developing colorectal, colon or rectal cancers.
Consuming an average of 25.5 lbs. annually, Finnish people drink more coffee than any other nation. In this study, more than 60,000 Finnish men and women aged 26 to 74 years were questioned about daily coffee intakes. Participants were followed for an average of 18 years, during which time a total of 538 cases of colorectal cancer were reported. The data showed that participants who drank 10 or more cups of coffee daily were no more likely to develop colorectal cancer than non-drinkers. These results remained consistent when factors such as gender, smoking, alcohol consumption, age, education and physical activity were accounted for.
A number of case-control studies have found similar results, and experimental studies have even shown that coffee has a protective effect against colorectal cancer risk, which means higher intakes of coffee were associated with lower risk. The protective effect may be related to chemicals in the coffee that have anti-carcinogenic properties. These benefits seem to be associated with unfiltered coffee, which was not factored into the Finnish study. The participants in this study were also not questioned about intake of caffeinated versus decaffeinated coffee.
Approximately 1 million cases of colorectal cancer are diagnosed each year. The cause of colorectal cancer has many factors and there are some additional lifestyle habits that may decrease your risk. Some ways to decrease your risk of colorectal cancer can include:
- Eat a varied and balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains
- Get regular physical activity
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Abstain from tobacco
- Consume alcohol in moderation, if at all
- Begin regular colon cancer screening at age 50 (earlier if you are at high risk, such as having a family history)
Overall, recent studies suggest that coffee seems to be more beneficial than harmful. So put on a fresh pot of coffee and know that it’s doing more than just helping you wake up.