(Australian Associated Press)
Drinking four or more cups of coffee a day can increase the chances of surviving bowel cancer.
A study of 950 treated patients found those who had a minimum of four cups of caffeinated coffee a day were 42 per cent less likely to have a tumour recurrence than non-coffee drinkers.
They also were 33 per cent less likely to die from cancer or any other cause.
Those who drank two to three cups of coffee daily had a more modest benefit, while little protection was associated with one cup or less.
The research, by scientists at the Gastrointestinal Cancer Centre at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in the US, is published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.
It’s the first to link caffeinated coffee to a reduced risk of bowel cancer recurrence.
Cancer Council of Australia said it does not specifically recommend increasing or decreasing coffee consumption to reduce cancer risk or prevent recurrence.
“People who are undergoing or recovering from cancer treatment should seek the advice of an oncology dietitian who can speak to their specialist about their specific case to determine the best diet for their needs,” said the council’s nutrition adviser, Clare Hughes.
She also noted health concerns associated with drinking too much coffee, including for pregnant women and people with high blood pressure.
The study’s patients had all been treated with surgery and chemotherapy for stage three bowel cancer, when the disease has reached the lymph nodes near the original tumour.
Lead researcher Dr Charles Fuchs said these patients usually have about a 35 per cent chance of recurrence.
“We found that coffee drinkers had a lower risk of the cancer coming back and a significantly greater survival and chance of a cure,” Dr Fuchs said.
Despite the results, he was cautious about recommending coffee to patients.
“If you are a coffee drinker and are being treated for colon cancer, don’t stop,” he said.
“But if you’re not a coffee drinker and wondering whether to start, you should first discuss it with your physician.”