Cancer Patients and Coffee Intake

Cancer Patients and Coffee Intake

For patients living with mesothelioma and other types of cancer, having a soothing, hot drink can be a great mood booster. Little things like a nice coffee or cup of tea can make all the difference in mitigating the stress of living with cancer. Now, according to researchers, there may be even more reasons for cancer patients to enjoy that cup of coffee regularly.

Several studies have found that coffee can confer some protection against different types of cancer, but it may also help with weight loss and preventing diabetes. Best of all for cancer patients, there is some evidence that coffee could improve survival rates. More research is needed to better understand how and in what ways coffee benefits cancer patients and others, but for now there is every reason to keep enjoying a nice, hot cup of coffee.

Coffee and Cancer Protection and Other Health Benefits

One of the most exciting findings about coffee is that it seems to confer some degree of protection over developing cancer. While drinking coffee every morning won’t guarantee you don’t develop cancer, or prevent you from having a recurrence after mesothelioma treatment, it does seem to lower the risks. This was not always what was thought; it was just in 2016 that the International Agency for Research on Cancer removed coffee from the list of substances that may increase the risk of cancer.

At the same time that it removed cancer from the list, the Agency also stated that coffee may protect against the development of specific cancers, including endometrial and liver cancers. There is still some evidence that coffee drinking correlates with lung cancer, but this is likely to be due to other lifestyle factors such as smoking. Other cancers that coffees may protect against include skin cancer, brain cancer, oral cancer, and prostate cancer.

In addition to cancer protection, coffee has been found to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, like heart attack and stroke, Parkinson’s disease, and cirrhosis of the liver. Overall, moderate coffee intake has been associated with a longer life and reduction in the risk of death from any cause.

How Coffee Protects Against Cancer

Exactly why or how coffee provides some protection against cancer is not understood fully, but there are several ideas that come from research. Some evidence, for instance, suggests that coffee increases the body’s sensitivity to insulin and reduces or prevents chronic inflammation. Insulin insensitivity and long-term inflammation have both been linked with cancer development.

Other ideas are that the chemicals in coffee, such as antioxidants, protect DNA from being damaged, promote the deaths of damaged cells such as cancer cells, and slow the growth of tumors. None of these are proven, but the evidence comes from research. More studies will need to be done to find out for sure how coffee can lower cancer risk and which compounds in coffee provide this effect.

Coffee Improves Cancer Survival Rates

Even more exciting for cancer patients is the most recent evidence that drinking coffee may lead to a greater chance of surviving cancer. The research focused on colon cancer patients, but the findings may be relevant to patients battling other types of cancer. The study investigated coffee consumption in patients with stage III colon cancer, all of whom were treated surgically and with chemotherapy.

The patients who drank four or more cups of coffee per day saw the most benefits. They were 42 percent less likely to have a recurrence of the cancer after treatment. They were also 34 percent less likely to die from cancer. These results are significant and demonstrate that coffee could have a serious impact on cancer survival rates. It is important to note that there were only modest benefits seen with patients who drank two or three cups of coffee per day; it was four or more cups per day that led to the biggest results. This study was also significant in that it was a large one, including more than 1,000 patients.

Coffee Can Be Too Hot

While all the evidence points to the fact that you can and should enjoy that daily cup of coffee, or multiple cups, there is one caveat. Drinks that are too hot, whether coffee or another drink may actually increase cancer risk. This may be the reason that coffee was once thought to be carcinogenic. Research has caught up to the real facts, though, and it is a very hot temperature, not coffee itself that can potentially increase the risk of developing cancer.

A very hot drink means temperatures over 149 degrees Fahrenheit or 65 degrees Celsius. The good news for those who enjoy coffee is that it is typically drunk at safe temperatures. If you aren’t sure, you can measure the temperature in your cup of coffee, or just let your drink sit for a few minutes before you drink it to let it cool. The studies that made this connection between hot drinks and cancer used a drink called mate, traditionally drunk very hot in South America. The very hot temperature of the drinks was linked to an increased risk of esophageal cancer.

Should You Start Drinking Coffee?

The results of studies relating coffee to cancer and other health conditions is interesting and exciting, but it is far from conclusive. Experts suggest that much more research needs to be done to be sure what the effects are and that drinking coffee is truly safe for cancer patients. They do not recommend that cancer patients start drinking coffee if they were not previously coffee drinkers. However, they do say that there is now no reason to stop drinking coffee if you have cancer.

If you do want to start drinking coffee, talk to your doctors first. There may be some reasons why you should avoid or limit coffee. For instance, there is such a thing as consuming too much caffeine. It can cause heart palpitations and even arrhythmias in some people. Experts say that if you drink coffee without getting jumpy or without your heart racing, it is probably a safe amount. But again, check with your doctors first, and stick with black coffee. Adding cream and sugar can make a healthy drink unhealthy.

Can Coffee Help You Live Longer????

By ASHLEY WELCH CBS NEWS July 10, 2017, 5:00 PM

Could drinking coffee help you live longer?

There's some more good news for coffee drinkers. While previous research has linked drinking moderate amounts of coffee to a decreased risk of Alzheimer's disease, diabetes, heart disease, and several types of cancer, two new studies show that people who drink coffee appear to live longer.

The research only shows an association and cannot prove that coffee leads to a longer life, but experts say it is consistent with other studies that have shown potential beneficial effects of regularly drinking coffee.

"We cannot say drinking coffee will prolong your life, but we see an association," Veronica W. Setiawan, lead author of the one of the studies and an associate professor of preventive medicine at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California, said in a statement. "If you like to drink coffee, drink up!"

Setiawan's research, published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, found that drinking one cup of coffee a day was associated with a 12 percent decrease in risk of death.

 

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Coffee drinkers live longer, studies say

The link was even stronger for people who drank two to three cups a day; that group saw an 18 percent reduced risk of death.

The benefit was seen regardless of whether people drank regular or decaffeinated coffee, suggesting the effect comes from the coffee itself, not caffeine, the researchers said.

For the study, the Setiawan and her team analyzed data on more than 215,000 adults ages 45 to 75 from a variety of ethnicities. Specifically, 17 percent of the participants were African-American, 29 percent Japanese-Americans, 22 percent Latinos, 25 percent whites, and 7 percent Native Hawaiians.

"This study is the largest of its kind and includes minorities who have very different lifestyles," Setiawan said. "Seeing a similar pattern across different populations gives stronger biological backing to the argument that coffee is good for you whether you are white, African-American, Latino or Asian."

 

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Coffee and your health

A second study also published in Annals of Internal Medicine found coffee consumption was linked with a lower risk of death from all causes, and specifically for circulatory diseases and digestive diseases.

The researchers in that study looked at more than a half million people across 10 European countries. This is important, they say, because coffee consumption and preparations vary greatly from country to country.

"Ranging from filtered coffee, boiled coffee and espresso coffee... any type of coffee consumed seems to confer these health benefits," study author Professor Elio Riboli, head of the School of Public Health at Imperial College London, told CBS News.

CBS News chief medical correspondent Dr. Jon LaPook said it can be difficult to make recommendations based on dietary studies "because there are lots of different variables. For example, people who drink more coffee tend to smoke more cigarettes, so that had to be taken into account. Of course, caffeine can cause symptoms like palpitations or heartburn, so people need to be aware of that."

However, he said, while it's premature to actually prescribe coffee for health benefits, "It's becoming increasingly evident that moderate consumption can be part of a healthy diet." LaPook said that patients are so used to doctors "saying 'don't eat that, don't eat this,' so as a doctor, it's nice to be able to say, 'enjoy.'"

The researchers aren't exactly sure what's behind coffee's perceived health benefits, but they have a few ideas.

"Coffee contains a lot of antioxidants and phenolic compounds that play an important role in cancer prevention," Setiawan points out.

Riboli notes that the Imperial College study found that drinking more coffee was associated with "lower markers of inflammation" and "better markers of liver function."

Experts say more research is needed to determine which of the compounds in coffee may be giving a protective health benefit.

In an accompanying editorial, researchers from Johns Hopkins say it's too early to suggest that people drink more coffee or take up the habit if they don't drink it already, but say it appears that for most people drinking coffee is perfectly safe.

"Recommending coffee intake to reduce mortality or prevent chronic disease would be premature," they write. "However, it is increasingly evident that moderate coffee intake up to 3 to 5 cups per day or caffeine intake up to 400 mg/d is not associated with adverse health effects in adults and can be incorporated into a healthy diet."

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