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NMU 49 – Caffeinated Coffee Strongly Linked to Reduced Colon Cancer Recurrence in Large Study

Nutrition / Natural Medicine Update No. 49 (March 28, 2017)

with Dr. James Meschino


Research Topic: Caffeinated Coffee Strongly Linked to Reduced Colon Cancer Recurrence in Large Study

Source: The Journal of Clinical Oncology 2015


The research study I’m citing today was published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology in 2015. It showed that regular consumption of caffeinated coffee may help prevent the return of colon cancer after treatment and improve the chances of a cure. The study included nearly 1,000 colon cancer patients who filled out dietary questionnaires early in the study, during chemotherapy and again about a year later. The patients who drank 4 or more cups of caffeinated coffee per day, on average, after being treated with surgery and chemotherapy for stage III colon cancer showed the lowest recurrence rate of colon cancer, metastasis or from dying from any cause. That’s about 460 mg per day of caffeine per day. It’s an important finding as stage III colon cancer involves spread of cancer to lymph nodes near the primary site of cancer. Non-caffeinated coffee did not seem to offer any protection. So, it appears that caffeine itself had the protective properties.

Results showed that stage III colon cancer patients consuming 4 or more cups of caffeinated coffee per day, after standard medical treatment for colon cancer, were 42 percent less likely to have their cancer return than non-coffee drinkers, and were 33 percent less likely to die from cancer or any other cause. Two to three cups of coffee daily had a more modest benefit, while little protection was associated with one cup of coffee per day or less. The study is important because most recurrences of colon cancer happen within five years of treatment and are uncommon after that. This study lends support to a growing number of recent studies suggesting that coffee may have protective effects against the development of several kinds of cancer, including postmenopausal breast cancer, melanoma, liver cancer, and advanced prostate cancer.

As the researchers explained – in this instance the lowered risk of cancer recurrence and deaths was entirely due to caffeine and not other components of coffee.  So how might caffeine reduce cancer risk and cancer recurrence? Caffeine is known to increase insulin sensitivity, thus lowering the amount of insulin required by the body after meals.  Lower insulin levels are linked to reduced risk of cancer and cancer recurrence.  In addition, some experimental studies have shown that caffeine enhances the tumor-killing effect of some chemotherapy drugs (2) and that it may also help induce programmed cell death of emerging cancer cells and decrease cancer cell replication. (3)

Coffee and caffeine, once classified as potential carcinogens (cancer-causing agents), are now being reclassified as cancer fighters in the wake of many recent cancer studies.  So, if you like a cup of coffee and you’re not sensitive to the caffeine, then it may be wise to have 2-4 cups per day. And if you are a colon cancer survivor talk to your doctor about the value of having 4 or more cups of caffeinated coffee each day and possibly share the research cited below with your doctor or oncologist to get their feedback


1. Main Reference: Brendan J. Guercio, Kaori Sato, Donna Niedzwiecki, Xing Ye, Leonard B. Saltz, Robert J. Mayer,

Rex B. Mowat, Renaud Whittom, Alexander Hantel, Al Benson, Daniel Atienza, Michael Messino, Hedy Kindler, Alan Venook, Frank B. Hu, Shuji Ogino, Kana Wu, Walter C. Willett, Edward L. Giovannucci, Jeffrey A. Meyerhardt, and Charles S. Fuchs. Coffee Intake, Recurrence, and Mortality in Stage III Colon Cancer: Results From CALGB 89803 (Alliance). Journal of Clinical Oncology, August 2015




Eat Smart, Live Well, Look Great,

Dr. Meschino

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